BROSSARD, Que. – For a goaltender who handles the puck as well as Carey Price, it’s surprising he has never fired one down the ice and into the opposing team’s net at any level of hockey.
Twice this week, the Montreal Canadiens goalie thought about trying it, but then let the chance slip away.
“I tried it once in junior but my defenceman blocked it,” Price said Friday.
The Canadiens, who face the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, are coming off a pair of solid wins this week over—2-0 over the Vancouver Canucks and 3-1 over the Boston Bruins.
In both cases the opponent pulled its goalie with about two minutes left to play, leaving open that chance for a rink-length goal, as only a handful including Ron Hextall, Martin Brodeur and former Canadien Jose Theodore, have done in the NHL.
Against Boston, Price didn’t quite get control of the puck when the opportunity arose.
“I tried to pick it off the boards and it hopped over my stick,” he said. “And Gomer (Scott Gomez) is yelling at me to shoot. Then I lost it.”
“I told him to shoot and he gets a bottle between his legs behind the net and I’m thinking ‘are you kidding?'” said Gomez. “Everyone would love to see Pricy do it.
“I played all those years (in New Jersey) with Marty Brodeur and, when a guy can do it, why not? If it’s a one-goal game maybe we’ll worry about it a bit, but the way he’s playing, why not shoot?”
The atmosphere on the team was loose after a pair of confidence building wins.
Price, who has rebounded from a weak 2009-10 season, continued his solid play by letting in one of 70 shots over the two victories, which included his second shutout of the season.
“I’m just trying to get earlier positioning, that’s been the key so far,” he said. “I try to get a good push and get set before everything happens.
“Lots of teams will try to get you moving but you still try to make it as tough as possible and not leave any holes.”
The Canadiens power play, which was last in the 30-team NHL with only three goals in its first 14 games, got one against the Canucks and two more against the Bruins. The power play is now tied for 27th, although with a still below average 10.7 per cent success rate.
And Gomez, who had gone 13 games without a goal, finally got his second of the year in Boston.
“As long as we were winning, we weren’t worried about it,” said Gomez. “I don’t want to start scoring and we start losing.
“I’ve gone through it before. A slump’s a slump, It doesn’t matter if you’re at Yankee Stadium or the Expos at Olympic Stadium here. That’s where experience comes through. I’ve been in slumps where you’re not even getting any opportunities. That’s when maybe you start losing sleep.”
Fans and media had been hammering Gomez in recent weeks, but he said he learned when he was with New Jersey not to read newspapers or watch commentary about his team on television from coach Pat Burns and captain Joe Nieuwendyk.
“I respect what you guys do, I was on the paper myself in high school, but I just don’t read you guys,” he told reporters. “Especially if I see a Habs thing coming on TV, I change it right away.
“That’s learning from Burnsy.”
At East Anchorage high school in his native Alaska, Gomez said his time in journalism did not go quite as well as his hockey.
“They wouldn’t let me write about sports,” he said. “The biggest regret in life was I had to do an assignment on the band for the yearbook.
“I grabbed yearbooks from 1970 to 1990 and basically copied and got material out of that. But my teacher gave me an editor. I remember opening the yearbook and (expletive), it had her name and Scott Gomez. Oh man, I went in there guns a-blazing and the teacher said ‘You copied the whole thing.’ And I said ‘Yeah, I copied it. She didn’t.'”
The Canadiens held an optional practice. Gomez was among 12 players on the ice, but said it was only to work on new skates and a new stick.