MONTREAL – The dressing room of the Montreal Canadiens was opened on Monday after beating Calgary Flames 2-0. Goalscorers Ryan Poehling and Jordan Weal stood at their lockers and waited for the media to rush.
Nearby Carey Price put his gear in his pocket properly after dropping Ken Dryden to third place overall in a game in which he scored 31 saves and 46th career drop. Time Canadien's List. It was basically a minor matter for most of the people in the building, who saw the home team jump a 17-7 lead in the first half and a 32-16 lead in the 40th minute. And if he hadn't reached that milestone, we wouldn't be sure if he was in high demand in the room.
It doesn't matter that the 32-year-old stopped three 2v1 chances, three half breakouts and a few dangerous tips from the high slot before the second period ended. And yes, there was a minority that “Carey! Carey! Carey! "In the middle of a third period in which Price fired 15 shots, it wasn't a big story when the silver doors to the Canadiens room opened.
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There was Weal, the 27-year-old who was injured in Saturday's Ottawa 2-1 win over the senators in the team's overtime. If he hadn't used the puck to help the Canadians gain a head start that is considered the best game period in over a month, who knows how it would have ended?
And if it hadn't been for Poehling, the 21-year-old rookie who scored his first goal of the season to give Montreal a valuable double goal cushion at 9:45 might have looked different.
But he did, and as Flames head coach Geoff Ward put it after the game: “We struck, struck, competed and worked from the start. It was a long time before we got back into the hockey game. "
If the Flames had a chance at all, it was thanks to goalkeeper David Rittich. So the Canadians deserve to play like that.
Price was also not the main actor on Saturday after making 41 saves against Ottawa to help the Canadiens achieve their first win since December 23. That honor belonged to Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored his first goal in uniform in a dramatic way to end the game. And little is said about Price's performance against the flames outside of the 900 or so words we put down here.
But there was a lot of noise in his game when things were going badly for the team. Much was justified – probably more during the November slide than the last one, in which the Canadians lost eight games in a row (technically, two games where the other side scored two goals thanks to the spaces).
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And it wasn't just about Price’s game. His comments after a 2: 3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets a week ago that he was "extremely frustrated" were interpreted by some to mean that he simply didn't care anymore. His body language on ice has been broken down so often on Twitter that you'd have thought most Canadian fans had taken decoding courses from the FBI.
The team's 19-year-old center, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, noticed this.
"Oh yeah!" He said when asked if he knew how much guilt Price would take if the Canadians lost.
Kotkaniemi also shared some insights into the calm man's behavior in the crease behind closed doors as the storm has been getting stronger outside for the past three weeks.
"He doesn't stress that much," the boy began. "You know how calm he is, and whenever he talks, he says wise things and tries (was) to help the boys."
Poehling said Price's appearance gave him and the other young, inexperienced Canadians a head start.
"Whatever the outcome, Carey shows that if you just keep playing and sticking to it, things will go as you want," he said. "He is a quiet leader, but the way he stays alone and focuses on his process gives us the opportunity to overcome such situations. He gives us the chance to win every night."
There were a few games this year that simply weren't. But there are not nearly as many as some suspect.
Nevertheless, Price – as the highest paid goalkeeper in the NHL and the highest paid player in the Canadiens – has to live with this control.
Dale Weise, who supported Weal's goal, said that since his first assignment with the Canadiens from 2013-2016, Price has grown in this department.
"He has this positive attitude, he's huge in this locker room," said the right winger, who had returned to the Canadiens last season through trading with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“You can see his attitude; he doesn't give up, he doesn't point his fingers, he blames himself, ”Weise continued. "I think that's huge. You won't see much of his personality. I think you can see it open over the years – just from my time before until now. He's a little more relaxed. He's always had the comedy about himself that makes boys laugh. He keeps things relaxed in tense situations.
“The whole world could fall on him outside and you would never know. He is positive every day, works hard and his attitude is infectious in this locker room. "
We are certain that assessment means something to Price.
The few cheers that he heard at the Bell Center on Monday meant something to him, too.
"It is always nice to have this support and I always appreciate it," said Price.
Maybe after a win like the Canadians won on Monday, he doesn't need the credit, but he makes a lot of it.