Carey Price Is Not The Reason The Capitals Beat The Habs

Photo by Francois Lacasse / NHLI via Getty Images

Carey Price Is Not The Reason The Capitals Beat The Habs

Carey Price is not the reason the Capitals beat the Habs Monday night, in a 4-1 game at the Bell Centre. But he’s being blamed for the loss. At least, on social media.

Tomas Plekanec finally scored (his 4th; a power-play goal halfway through the third period), to tie the score with Washington, but the Habs failed to hold off the red-hot Capitals, who scored 3 more times to win, 4-1.

Price made 35 saves in a game that saw Montreal’s SOG totaling only 23.

Rather than discuss the game, period-by-period, let’s discuss the Story that always emerges after a game like this: Blame And Speculation.

The blame is put squarely on Carey Price, almost invariably, every loss. Or the other rumor: he must be injured. And I saw someone speculate that perhaps having a baby at home has him more tired than usual. (No, I’m not outing that poster nor will I dignify the tweet)

I’ve seen some on social media, almost gleefully mocking him as “the best goaltender in the world” in sarcastic, deprecating posts. (To those people, I ask: what are your save percentages?)

Carey Price is an exceptional goaltender. Nobody can dispute that, just watching some of the available clips online from this season alone.

Is he utterly infallible? I think deep down, his detractors would admit no one is. I know he would be the first to admit he is not.

Price had a rough game, no doubt; does that mean he isn’t allowed to falter, just because he is an elite goalie? Are people that unrealistic that they don’t believe he’s got a loss in him every once in  a while?

The Caps couldn’t score past their single goal for 2-1/2 periods. That wasn’t because they don’t have the talent. Alex Ovechkin, with the 4th Caps goal Monday night, came within 1 of his 1,000-point mark. He tied Maurice Richard‘s record for goals, with that one (his 544th goal, 29th on the list of all-time scorers). Safe to say Ovechkin is a dangerous opponent.

Nicholas Backstrom scored his 10th goal of the season. Brayden Holtby‘s shutout streak of almost 170 minutes was busted by Plekanec’s goal.

Washington is a point ahead of Montreal in the division, having won their 6th in a row with this victory. They’re not a team without challenges for their opponents.

The Habs are missing 7 key players. And while that’s never an excuse, the ongoing topic of discussion among analysts, pundits, and fans, was how this team – so depleted – was able to pull off a fairly successful 7-game road trip.

In fact, much of the talk on all the networks Monday night was how, in a first game back on home ice after a long road trip (in this case, 18 days on the road), a team doesn’t always play its best game. This is a phenomenon that was discussed in detail after the game; apparently, the team breathes a bit of a collective sigh to be home again, and that somehow translates to a less-than-energetic performance.

The team didn’t step up; Tomas Plekanec – who has struggled for this whole season – finally got a goal (his 4th – this is the halfway point of the season). Plekanec scored on a power play – and despite getting 4 power-play opportunities, the Habs only scored on 1. The power play is also an ongoing  struggle for this team.

Here are my arguments against any speculation that Price is injured:

  • He made 35 saves. He made some big saves, and has a road-trip highlight reel that could easily stand for his entire season, with the spectacular performances he had.
  • He isn’t the only player out there. The team has to defend the net, block the shots, clear the puck, and keep play at the other end of the ice, in order for the goalie to have a chance of helping his team win.
  • With 39 shots on goal by Washington, and 23 by Montreal, the story of this game is encapsulated right there.
  • Another reason I do not feel Price is injured is his history. Last season, we all know, he was injured a couple of times within a month, and we had from November on without him between the pipes.

Do you honestly believe Michel Therrien, Stéphane Waite, the team doctors, OR Carey himself would even consider putting him in front of a physical team – whether that’s Washington, Toronto, Tampa Bay, or Pittsburgh – at the risk of exacerbating this (fictitious) injury he’s nursing? He’d be shut down faster than the Penguins shut down Sidney Crosby the first sign of a headache.

  • Max Pacioretty hid a fractured foot for a month. He was still able to play – but it was blatantly obvious he was not himself; he wasn’t scoring, he wasn’t skating the way he usually does, and he wasn’t battling physically. As soon as he got back, he was crashing the net, battling in the corners, and skating like greased lightning.
  • Carey Price has been consistent. And, in my (humble) opinion, would not be able to make the lateral moves, the glove saves, the spot-on rebounds to the corners, or the blocker saves he’s made if he were injured. The position of goaltender is physically taxing. Any injury would be clear.
  • Analysts who have been covering this team for decades all say the same thing: it happens. Goaltenders are going to have rough patches. But none of the experts seems worried. None of the professionals paid to cover, report, analyze, and broadcast Habs hockey seems to be contemplating an injury.

So, until we’re told otherwise, why speculate over something that has no foundation?

My point is this: there are plenty of reasons the Habs did not win this game. Carey Price is not one of them. Or, if you’d prefer, not the only reason. If he had a rough game, it’s just a reminder that he is human, and will have those nights.

Even Pacioretty – in his post-game interview – admitted they did not play the way they should have.

Let’s move on from this game, keep the panic to a minimum, and start looking at the whole picture, instead of hanging the entire team around the neck of one player – especially one whose role is as enormous and as limited as the goaltender.

Next game will be Wednesday night, when the Habs visit the Jets in Winnipeg. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m., and it will be the first of another back-to-back (Minnesota Thursday).

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One Response to Carey Price Is Not The Reason The Capitals Beat The Habs

  1. I only count 5 injuries and only 4 that are important
    Shaw so-so
    Markov-definitely missed
    Chucky–biggest miss
    Gally–big miss
    DD–not missed

    Bay_Bye January 10, 2017 at 7:54 am Reply

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