The Montreal Canadiens were well on their way to missing the postseason for the third straight season, but then COVID-19 happened. Suddenly, there’s a chance for the team and their fans to at least have some hope.
The NHL had no choice – and showed great wisdom – but to pause the 2019-20 season on March 12. At that time, the team was clearly out of the playoffs, and reeling from losing streaks – two of them actually – of eight games in a row.
Surprise: The Canadiens Are in the Postseason
Although the playoffs were out of the question, there was growth on the team. As Sportsnet noted recently, one positive was rookie Nick Suzuki. Suzuki showed up and became one of the best rookies in the NHL. Not far behind were prospects Cale Fleury and Ryan Poehling (both drafted during the 2017 NHL Entry Draft). All three of these youngsters had a chance to play and grow throughout the season.
Now there’s a chance they can also take a crack at the playoffs. All the team has to do is to beat Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins in a best-of-five series. Can they do it?
Talk about a reprieve. What will the Canadiens do with their unexpected opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup? In so many ways, the answer lies with their great goalie Carey Price.
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Carey Price Can Certainly Become a Factor
Only six weeks ago, at the end of May, Price was named as the best goalie in the NHL by his peers. And he won by a landslide really when you look at the percentage of votes he garnered – shown below.
In fact, there were rumors that some NHL teams argued against putting the eight teams on the bubble of making the postseason into the postseason simply because they didn’t want to face the 32-year-old future Hall of Famer. In a short, five-game series there’s no doubt that Price could rise up and simply stone a team.
Which Carey Price Will Show Up?
That’s his reputation; but, the question remains whether he in fact can do it. Given his season to date, in 58 games with the Canadiens this season, Price’s record was 27-25-6, with a .909 save percentage and a goals-against-average of 2.79. In short, Price has done lots better.
However, that lots better also includes during his last postseason playoffs, where his save percentage was .933 and his goals-against-average was 1.86. That’s much better and shows what he’s capable of doing.
For the Canadiens, it’s really not complicated. If Price can stand on his head and post stats similar to those he posted during the 2017 postseason, then it’s a crapshoot and the mighty Penguins better watch out.
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