For nearly three weeks after the Olympics, Carey Price’s suspected groin injury prevented him from going on the ice. He finally got a practice in and, with the Canadiens struggling, Michel Therrien threw him right back into the meat grinder against Ottawa March 15th. I think Therrien’s thinking was, an out of shape Carey Price was better than what he was getting from Peter Budaj who had lost three games in a row. His also had to think about a need for a goaltender at the top of his game if and when the Canadiens enter the playoffs. Many, myself included, questioned Therrien’s decision to rush Price back into the lineup but his judgment has been right on.
The good ones find a way to win and, out of condition or not, Price has been winning and in the process has practically guaranteed a Canadiens spot in the playoffs. He has won three of four games and was first star in a 40 save 3-2 loss against Columbus.
Price’s teammates are well aware of how much they owe their goaltender. In their collective mind they probably sensed that his game was going to be below average. If so, the answer was to give him some offensive support, something sorely missing through most of the season. . In his four starts, while Price’s goals against average has been sub-par 3.26 and his save percentage .906, the Canadiens have won by outscoring opponents 17-13. That’s 4.2 per game compared with the season average of 2.58.
After his win in Toronto Saturday night, Price told reporters, “The past couple of games things are getting back to normal. It’s a work in progress. When you’re out of action for just about three weeks, it’s all about timing and getting a feel for the game.”