October 13, 2010
Wednesday night in Montreal, former Habs farm team coach Guy Boucher brings his Tampa Bay Lightning in for opening night. Vincent Lecavalier(notes) will be on the Bell Centre ice, which is always newsworthy, as well Steven Stamkos(notes) and Simon Gagne(notes). For the Canadiens, Brian Gionta(notes) makes his regular-season home debut as captain.
All of these storylines are interesting; but as has become customary for the 2010-11 Montreal Canadiens, all are eclipsed by the anticipation of Carey Price's(notes) performance for his fans and critics, and those who dabble in both.
Reactions to the goalie during the preseason ran the emotional gamut, and Wednesday night's reaction should be just as intense.
After starting 2-0 last season, Price lost seven of his next eight starts, including four straight at home. But as he prepares for the home opener, pessimism isn't following him like a stink cloud around PigPen for once.
His winning performance at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night was seen as a turning point for him personally and potentially "the end of the Twilight Zone-like dimension Price was in last year where his teammates refused to score any goals in his games but proceeded to light it up for Halak," according to Daily Hab-it.
He started the season with a loss in Toronto on a solid goaltending performance, in a situation where his teammates simply could not score enough goals in front of him.
Price followed up that performance with a stupendous 36 save effort two nights later in Pittsburgh, to steal two points from a hungry Pens team.
After the game, Coach Martin, in front of all of the other players in the dressing room, said that the victory belonged to Price, and he gave him the game puck to applause from his teammates.
The move is a smart one by a veteran coach who knows that Price is a player who's confidence is fragile and needs a little stroking.
So how will Price respond? That, to me, is the big question and it will be interesting to find out. My gut tells me that he'll play well and the Habs will pull out a win.
Price is giving the usual "it's just another game" malarkey in pregame comments, but everyone knows that ain't the case.
Tonight is not only the Canadiens home opener, it's the start of the much-needed reconciliation process between Carey Price and the fans. I'm not saying he deserves a free pass. No one in this city ever does. But he deserves a fresh start.
Well, "deserves" is a little strong. "Deserves" is what landed Jaro Halak in St. Louis. How about "earned" for once? Because right now, that's what Price is slowly doing: Earning it.