For as much as Carey Price has carried the Montreal Canadiens this season, spotting the differences in his play now versus in years past isn’t all that easy.
Identifying the fact Price is playing terrific is no trouble at all because his position leaves no room for interpretation; either you stop the puck or you don’t. But putting your finger on what the 23-year-old has altered in order to make improvements requires a bit of a well-trained eye. Josh Gorges, the Habs defenseman who’s out for the rest of the year with a knee injury, has just that.
“He’s fighting for every loose puck, he’s fighting to see rebounds and see around guys and maybe you didn’t see that his first year or two,” Gorges said.
We spoke with Gorges because Price, thanks to his stellar performance this year, is on the cover of a special goalie-themed issue of The Hockey News that can be found on newsstands beginning this weekend. It’s impossible to tell the story of Price without delving into the off-season trade of Jaroslav Halak, who led the Habs to the Eastern Conference final last spring. Watching Halak, who was dealt to the St. Louis Blues, steal the show couldn’t have been easy on Price, but Gorges said he channeled his feelings into productive activities.
“When Halak took over (Price) really concentrated on practice and practising with our goalie coach Pierre Groulx,” Gorges said. “I think they have a great relationship together and his practice habits this year have been much better. Not to say they were bad before, but with the maturity he’s gained, you see him battling for those pucks in practice. You do that stuff in practice and it’s going to pay off in the game, it just becomes a natural reaction.”
Price, as everyone knows, has always had the talent to be a top-notch stopper. At 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, he’s also got the kind of body that’s going to naturally block a lot of shots. Form and structure is stressed more than ever in the crease and good fundamentals are key to Price’s rise. But so, too, is his added level of hunger.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.