Hockey NHL

Healthy Skratch: The Price May Still be Right

We’re fourteen games into the season, and in what seems to be a yearly tradition at this point, Carey Price is already under the gun. Now, I won’t deny that he’s been shaky to start off the season. There have even been moments where he’s been flat out awful. That being said, I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around what could possibly be going on with #31 for the bleu, blanc et rouge . While I do think that there is genuine cause for people to be upset, I think there may be a few things worth noting when it comes to the Habs highest paid player.

For starters, this whole season is wonky, for everyone. Teams had shortened training camps, no preseason, and on top of that the first puck drop itself happened part way through January. For a sport whose athelete’s traditionally have their habit, it’s a very real possibility that some players are finding themselves a step behind; trying to play catchup. Now add in the fact that goalies themselves are usually thought of as the “weird” ones in the locker room. With careers built around superstitions, Carey Price is most likely not the only goalie finding himself a little uncomfortable between the posts. 

In fact, to that point, he’s shown in the last few years that he doesn’t always come in hot to start the season. That it takes him a little longer than it has in the past to get up to game speed. So, it is very possible that he’s still just trying to get his legs under him. On top of that, the only real downside we may see from the Allen acquisition is since he’s played so well, and because they seem to trust him more than any other backup in quiet some time, they’re going to play him more. Which in turn gives Price less game time (this is what we all wanted) but could also prolong this break-in period.

If there is one blatant argument that is hard to argue if you’re trying to defend Price it’s this: his baseline stats are horrendous. He’s currently got a brutal .896 SV% along with a less than desirable 2.84 GAA. Now, on the surface, there is no way of justifying those numbers. They’re bad. Really bad. However, if there is any glimpse of daylight in those nightmarish numbers it’s this. His high danger save percentage (HDSV%) is currently ranked 4th in the entire league, at .938%. The strange part? His low danger save percentage (LDSV%) is among the worst across the board. What does it mean?

It means that he’s making the difficult saves, which consist mostly of shots from the slot and tips, all while struggling to make the more “routine” NHL save. You could argue that his HDSV% is bound to come down, to which I would agree. Those kinds of numbers are usually not sustainable over the course of a whole season. However, and I’ll admit, this very well may just be the fan inside of me trying to convince myself of something that just isn’t true. I have a hard time believing that if he’s still able to make the more difficult saves, he’s not also going to be able to clean up the rest of his game. One of those areas is easier to fix than the other, and that’s the one he’s struggling with. That HDSV% proves that the talent is still there.

All in all, it really wouldn’t feel like the Habs were back if Carey Price wasn’t under constant scrutiny. That’s the whole point of sports, right? It’s always supposed to go well, we’re always supposed to have fun, and how dare they if they disappoint. If we can all be honest with each other for a second though, if Price stopped every goal people claimed he should stop, he’d let in what, maybe 7 goals a season? Forget Brady, Price would go down as the greatest athlete of all time. Unfortunately though, that’s not how it works with goalies. Sometimes, they’re just going to let in bad goals. They’re just going to have bad games. It doesn’t matter how good you think they should be, or how much money they’re making, there is not a single goalie who doesn’t look like he should be playing in some after-work beer league at some point throughout the season. I’ll take those struggles early in the season over later any day of the week.

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