Eyeing the Calder Trophy
|Carey Price has emerged as a serious Calder Trophy candidate.|
Despite all the rookie-of-the-year hype and having kicked aside 27-of-28 Sabres shots, Price was true to form and preferred shining the spotlight on the game’s first star Bryan Smolinski.
“That’s what separates winning teams from the rest, having everyone doing their part,” said Price after seeing Smolinski pot a pair of goals against the Sabres. “That type of team effort is how we went all the way last year in Hamilton and why we’re winning this season.”
Price’s performances haven’t hurt either. The 20-year-old netminder did come within nine minutes of registering his second-straight shutout before a goal by Buffalo’s Ales Kotalik snapped his shutout streak at 127:53.
“You often hear about a goalie being in the zone for a period of time. Carey certainly was at the World Juniors, in Hamilton, and even with his junior team,” explained head coach Guy Carbonneau. “And now since the trade deadline, Carey has been in that zone.”
In 14 games since Cristobal Huet headed to the Capitals, Price is 11-3 with two shutouts, a 2.20 goals against average and a sparkling .930 save percentage.
A year ago, Price had two games of AHL regular season experience with the Bulldogs before igniting Hamilton’s championship run and proving his critics wrong. The question now becomes: is there any limit to what Price can now do for the Canadiens’ playoff aspirations with 40 NHL games under his belt?
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“He’s just so relaxed. Nothing fazes him,” shrugged O’Byrne. “He’s the first guy to be chatting it up with someone in the room before a game, and you never see that in a goalie.”
While he may have played only his first NHL game on Thursday against the Sabres, Matt D’Agostini is all too familiar with having Price lead him to victory.
“It was clear to all of us last year in Hamilton that he was destined to be a star goalie in the NHL,” said D’Agostini. “This is what Carey was meant to do.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com