Price Check: He’s Still Your Mom’s Favourite Player, and He Should Be Yours

Photo courtesy of hockeyinsideout.com

 

Q. Who’s been the best goalie in the NHL this season?

A. Carey Price.

I was thinking about just typing the question and answer and ending it all. It’s concise, impactful, and correct, and some people simply don’t have the time to read lengthy articles detailing exactly why he’s awesome. However, everyone at AATH would dislike me slightly more than they already do if I left it like that, so I’m going to go through the motions here, and it’s going to be fun.

First of all, if the title of this whole thing is confusing you, this should clear it up:

This was Carey Price’s response to a Twitter “fan” back on February 21st, 2013 after a 4-3 loss to the Islanders in OT on the same night. Pricer faced 25 shots in the game. I censored this Brett fellow’s tweet for the sake of the image of AATH.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s begin.

There are a ton of reasons to love Carey Price. From his unprecedented handshake with Subban, which has since been forbidden from the moment Therrien took the reins, to his SO swag (here and here), his camaraderie with teammates, and his genuinely funny sense of humour.

But the most important reason to love him is because of his play on the ice, especially this season. We all knew he had this stellar play in him; he’s shown numerous times that he’s more than capable of it, plus the best player in the entire world thinks he’s great.

Price has been one of the consistent stories during this NHL season for the Canadiens (that, and their penalty-killing). He’s been an absolute pleasure to watch. But how good HAS he been? I’d describe it as “brilliantly fantastic.”

With Sochi looming, I thought I’d compile a list of the top Canadian goaltenders thus far in the 2013-2014 NHL season. I included a cut off of at least 20 games started (GS). Here are their numbers as of December 16th, 2013: (as usual, I’ve bolded the top 3 in each category – note that Team GF/GS doesn’t include a SH GWG as a GF in that GS)

Goaltender GS GAA SV% Team GF/GS SA/60
Bernier 20 2.53 92.5 2.90 33.94
Crawford 25 2.47 90.7 3.60 26.60
Dubnyk 24 3.39 89.1 2.86 31.08
Fleury 29 1.98 92.5 2.90 26.35
Harding 23 1.49 93.9 2.52 21.81
Holtby 25 2.82 92.0 3.08 35.20
Luongo 29 2.19 92.1 2.83 27.91
Mason 24 2.35 92.4 2.54 31.11
Price 27 2.00 93.5 2.52 30.82
Smith 27 2.98 91.1 3.11 33.37

 

Outstanding overall numbers. From what I gather, his GAA dropped to 1.97, while his SV% rose to .936 after his victory over the Coyotes.

Carey receives the least goal support among these goalies, which shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise given their recent stretch of games. The SA/60 rate for Price is a little bit of a smokescreen because he’s faced far and away the most overall shot attempts against in the entire NHL (3rd most shot attempts against per 60 minutes – or CA/60 – in the NHL) , but thanks to the Canadiens’ exceptional shot-blocking, his shots against are way down. That .935 SV%…speechless. As you may notice, no surprise that Bernier’s in the top 3 in SA/60. The one thing that’s fascinating is Mason; Philadelphia averages the 8th least amount of SA/60 on the PP, so you’d think his average shots against wouldn’t be so high. As it turns out, Philadelphia is atrocious at preventing shots at ES (25th most SA/60).

Price’s play during 5v5 (and overall even strength) isn’t any less impressive. By the way, I included Dubnyk in all of this because he qualified with 24 games started, and it’s just really funny seeing how awful he is but then again, he is an Oiler. (As of December 16th, 2013)

Goaltender GS 5v5 GA/60 5v5 GF/60 5v5 SA/60 ES SV%
Bernier 20 2.08 2.32 31.3 93.9
Crawford 25 1.91 3.08 24.6 92.6
Dubnyk 24 3.22 2.49 26.7 89.3
Fleury 29 1.89 2.21 22.9 92.3
Harding 23 1.16 2.02 22.4 94.9
Holtby 25 2.41 2.36 31.4 92.8
Luongo 29 2.23 2.60 26.7 92.3
Mason 24 2.38 2.32 30.8 93.0
Price 27 1.85 1.90 29.0 94.1
Smith 27 2.46 2.94 29.9 92.1

 

Check out that goals against/60 for Dubnyk. I mean, that’s strictly 5v5, not overall even strength. Let’s call a spade a spade; that’s extremely bad and extremely hilarious.

Thanks to Harding, Price isn’t tops in the GA/60 portion, or the SV% column. Anyone else beginning to dislike him but can’t fully do so because of his inspiring story and really how could anyone hate the boring, complaisant Minnesota Wild? You can’t.

There’s that bottom-of-the-barrel goals for per 60 support for Price, again. It’s obvious that typically even strength hockey is the most important part of a game. I’ve heard that, on average, 85% of games are played at evens (this season, the Flyers have the most PIMs/game and 3rd most PPO; their percentage of even strength play is 78%). Needless to say, Montreal needs to pick up their 5v5 play.

As for Carey’s shorthanded game, it’s leaps and bounds better than we all witnessed last season. If anyone says the reason is because of Douglas Murray, I’ll burn down the internet. (As of December 16th, 2013)

Goaltender GS 4v5 GA/60 4v5 SA/60 PK SV%
Bernier 20 6.95 55.2 87.3
Crawford 25 11.07 36.5 78.4
Dubnyk 24 5.54 52.3 89.4
Fleury 29 3.78 53.0 93.0
Harding 23 4.86 38.4 88.4
Holtby 25 7.52 56.6 88.8
Luongo 29 3.63 38.1 91.2
Mason 24 4.01 37.7 89.5
Price 27 4.67 45.0 90.4
Smith 27 9.40 58.9 86.1

 

Price’s SH SV% last season was – sit down, grab some water, watch a funny YouTube clip – 0.804. There were only 6 goalies worse in that category in ’12-’13: Petr Mrazek, Jonas Gustavsson, Yann Danis, Chad Johnson, Matt Hackett and Michael Leighton. Those 6 goalies combined to play 18 games, though. Really small samples. With the win against Phoenix, that number jumped to .908, which is good for 3rd in the NHL among goalies who have played in at least 15 games. Spectacular.

It’s no wonder the Coyotes and Leafs are bottom 5 in NHL PK%. That is a tonne of shots to give up. Somehow, Minnesota and Chicago are 25th and 28th respectively on the penalty kill. Chicago’s 4v5 SA/60 is only 1.2 shots against per 60 more than the Toronto Maple Leafs give up in all situations combined.

I can’t see Fleury magically making Team Canada, and I wouldn’t like him to. But he’s putting up some very respectable numbers this season; I suppose that’s typical Fleury though, yes? It seems extremely likely that it will in fact be a battle between Price and Luongo. Considering the workload difference, calibre of team each play on and Price’s far superior ES play, I’d certainly give the nod to Carey. He did experience that stellar World Juniors. The upper-hand Luongo clearly has with the Team Canada selection committee is most definitely 2010 in Vancouver.

If Price wasn’t already a favourite of yours, is he now? If he isn’t, here’s a word of advice: make sure your mother doesn’t love him before you chirp him on Twitter.

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