Carey to carry the load
On the brink of his first start since March 31, Price is ready to help his teammates knot their series with the Capitals at 2-2. While Jaroslav Halak is coming off allowing nine goals over his last two games, Jacques Martin’s decision runs deeper than that. Price did make all four starts against the Caps this season, going 2-1-1 against the league’s top team.
“When we look during the regular season, Carey played this team four times and had some success. I feel that he can help us win the game,” offered Martin on what factors tipped the scales in Price’s favor for Game 4. “That competition [between Price and Halak] has been healthy all year and both of them have benefited from that situation and it’s going to help in the long run. He’ll just go out and play the game and enjoy the challenge.”
Price won’t just have his coach’s vote of confidence behind him heading into his biggest game of the year; he’s also getting some glowing stamps of approval from inside the Habs’ dressing room.
“If you’re asking me, I think Carey Price is a top goaltender and I’m a huge Carey Price fan so I’m excited that he’s going to be in the net tonight,” explained Michael Cammalleri. “We love it. We’re excited. Not to take anything away from Jaro because he’s done a great job and he can still do a great job for us, but we’re excited about Carey as well. We’ve got two really good goaltenders and I’m happy to see Carey get his chance tonight.”
So is Josh Gorges. The Canadiens’ blue-liner first joined the Carey Price Fan club in 2007-08, when the rookie netminder made the jump to the big leagues a year after leading the Hamilton Bulldogs to the Calder Cup and backstopping Team Canada to the World Juniors Promised Land that December.
“It’s not easy for any player to be sitting and not playing. You always want to be on the ice and contributing,” described Gorges. “But Carey matured during that period. He learned how to handle adversity and how to handle different situations. I think it’s made him a better person and a better hockey player. He’s a real professional and he’s always ready and working hard, even when he isn’t in the net.”
While it may be the first full playoff game of the series against Price for the Capitals, Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau has more than his share of experience when it comes to facing the All-Star netminder when it matters.
“The big difference is when we were playing him in the Calder Cup, there was no media, as compared to this, so I don’t notice anything different about him,” explained Boudreau, whose Hershey Bears had the misfortune of coming up against the wall-like Price in the AHL Finals in 2007. “I didn’t know him at all except he stopped everything we shot at him. His demeanor when you see him in the media doing interviews now would have been the same; he always seems to be calm and never rattled.”
And that’s exactly what Boudreau expects to see out of the 22-year-old on Wednesday night.
“He’s had great success against us this year and when you’ve sat for a while, I’m sure it’s not rust you have to be worried about. He’s going to be ready to play the game of his life.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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