Have the Price-bashers ordered their special STFU tee-shirts from Hockey Inside/Out?
Through five starts and the early stages of his relationship with goaltending guru Stéphane Waite, Price has a GAA of 1.81 and a save percentage of .941.
Price pitched a 36-save shutout at the Jets. Combined with his 4-1 in Vancouver Saturday night, Price has stopped 75 of the last 76 shots he’s faced.
That’s pretty good goaltending. And the Canadiens are going to need Price at or near that level for the rest of the season.
Winnipeg was held without a shot on goal for the first seven minutes of the game. The tide seemed to turn when Pacioretty was injured; and in addition to Price’s saves, Canadiens skaters blocked a season-high 26 shots.
And it wasn’t just Josh Gorges and the usual rubber-repelling suspects. No fewer than 13 Canadiens skaters blocked Winnipeg shots.
Raphael Diaz, whose 24:08 of ice time was second only to the 25:07 of that superman who wears number 76, blocked four shots. David Desharnais blocked three. The kids, Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk, each had a block.
In his interview with RDS’s Pierre Houde before the game, Gorges said the Canadiens did some soul-searching after their loss in Calgary. The consensus was “we have to do better as a group,” with a focus on team structure and playing as a five-man unit.
Gorges could have mentioned discipline, a virtue that was on display in Winnipeg. With the Canadiens protecting a 2-0 lead and the hometown team dominating the game territorially, the Canadiens took only one minor penalty over the final 40 minutes of the game – and it was a cheesy hooking call on Daniel Brière.
In his postgame remarks, Michel Therrien singled out Desharnais and Brière for praise. Frequently the whipping boys of talk radio and the HIO Commentariat since the season began, the diminutive Québécois homeboys were each plus-2 in Winnipeg.
DD meshed nicely with Brandon Prust and Rene Bourque. Relegated to the fourth line when the game began, Brière was bumped up in the personnel shuffling that followed Pacioretty’s injury.
Tomas Plekanec, who began the game centring Gallagher and Galchenyuk, ended up between Bourque and Brian Gionta as Lars Eller (13-9 on faceoffs) was reunited with the kids.
On L’Antichambre, Michel Bergeron gave top marks to Therrien for adjustments the coach made in the course of the western road trip:
• Shuffling his top three forward lines, including the gutsy move of cracking the EGG.
• Pairing P.K. Subban with Andrei Markov. Teams had been pressuring P.K. with the intention of forcing his Gorges, his season-opening D partner, to handle the puck, which is not his forte. That doesn’t work with Markov playing the left side.
• Starting Peter Budaj four games into the season. Budaj was excellent in Edmonton, and Price has been lights-out ever since.
Loss of Pacioretty for a lengthy period would be a problem. Who joins Galchenyuk and Bourque as Top 9 LWs?
The Subban-Markov pairing is as good as any. But fans have to hope that was the real Raphael Diaz we saw in Winipeg.
Nathan Beaulieu played 10:32 and didn’t do anything egregiously awful. If you were to combine his skating and puckhandling with Jarred Tinordi’s size and physicality, the Canadiens would have themselves a helluva defenceman.
Oh, wait! They’ve got one already.
P.K. is playing 25 minutes a game. His eight points – including two goals – lead all NHL Dmen.
That 70-foot tape-to-tape pass that found DD near the Jets’ blueline? Otherworldly, man.
Eight years, $62 million. Do it, Marc.
The Canadiens play their next five games on home ice. They don’t face another extended road trip until late December. The California-Phoenix trip is in March.
An early-season hurdle has been surmounted in fine style, and home cookin’ awaits.
The Habs were given the day off on Wednesday.