No member of the Canadiens will face more pressure this season than goaltender Carey Price.
On Tuesday at the team’s annual golf tournament, Price stepped onto a raised platform near the clubhouse steps of Laval-sur-le-Lac and stared out into a familiar sea of journalists.
“Everybody is really excited to get this year going, I don’t think anybody feels added pressure at all,” Price said. “We all feel that there may be higher expectations for us (the Canadiens rallying from last in the East in 2011-12 to second place last season), but it seems to be like that every year.”
The lockout-shortened 2013 campaign didn’t end the way Price or the Canadiens would have liked. Heading into the playoffs, the goaltender lost six of his last eight starts with an .856 save percentage. In four playoff games, he posted an .894 save percentage, winning once and losing twice before suffering a second-degree sprain of his left knee’s medial collateral ligament.
But if there is concern about Price having a rebound season, you weren’t hearing it from anyone in the Canadiens family on Tuesday.
“He went through a tough patch and a lot of good goalies go through tough times,” general manager Marc Bergevin said. “It’s about maturing. Surrounding him with (new goalie coach) Stéphane Waite … will help him a lot.”
Said Josh Gorges, who knows Price better than any player on the team: “Your goalies are a huge piece of the puzzle. We expect a lot from them and we expect (Price) to be at his best. He’s trained harder this summer that he ever has and he’s got himself into fantastic shape.
“He’s been through more ups and downs in his short time in Montreal that he knows how to handle these kind of situations. We know he’s going to be at his best all year.”
Added free-agent signing Daniel Brière: “I consider myself very lucky to be part of team that has Carey Price as its goalie. I’m excited. I have no doubt that he’ll have a big season.”
The Canadiens’ rookie camp begins Thursday morning with 40 players reporting to the team’s Brossard practice facility for physical testing. The players will hit the ice Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., and will scrimmage at 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday and Monday. All on-ice sessions are open to the public. Eighteen of the players at the camp are Canadiens draft picks, including three first-round selections: Michael McCarron (2013), Nathan Beaulieu (2011) and Jarred Tinordi (2010).
The Canadiens’ main training camp will open next Wednesday when players report for medicals and physical testing in Brossard.
Meanwhile, the Canadiens are selling tickets for an informal Red vs. White scrimmage on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Bell Centre, with proceeds being donated to the Fonds Avenir Lac-Mégantic. Tickets, which cost $5 and include a free hot dog, a bag of chips and a soft drink, are available online at canadiens.com and evenko.ca or through the Bell Centre ticket office. As of Wednesday afternoon, 11,000 tickets had already been sold. The Canadiens play their first preseason game on Saturday, Sept. 15 at the Bell Centre against the Buffalo Sabres, with the Boston Bruins coming to town the next night. All seven Canadiens preseason games will be televised by RDS.
(Photo by Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)