What’s going on with Carey Price?

Joey Alfieri
NBC Sports

The Montreal Canadiens were expected to be one of the bottom-dwellers in the Eastern Conference this season. Instead, they’ve proven everybody wrong by getting off to an 8-5-3 start. Nothing to complain about in Montreal then, right? Guess again!

After they traded away their two best scorers in Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk, the expectation was that they’d have a hard time putting the puck in the net. That hasn’t been an issue. The Shea Weber injury was also supposed to derail their season, but the defense has sort of held up until now. So what’s the big issue that has fans up in arms? Apparently, it’s Carey Price.

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Let’s make one thing clear: Price hasn’t been good enough this season. That has never been more evident than over the last few days, as he gave up bad goals in the third period against the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

And he also gave up a couple of stinkers in Thursday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on home ice:

Canadiens fans everywhere are starting to get nervous about Price’s play because he struggled mightily last year and because this is the first year of an eight-year contract that will see him earn an AAV of $10.5 million. That’s a lot of Price-y years (sorry).

After Thursday night’s loss to Buffalo, Price confirmed what we already knew when he admitted that the issues were all inside his head. He also said that the way the defense is playing in front of him hasn’t changed since the start of the year, but that’s not true.

It’s evident that Montreal’s defensive group has come back down to earth with a thud over the last little while. Jeff Petry, who’s been pretty good this year, and Jordie Benn have played way too many minutes. Youngsters like Victor Mete and Noah Juulsen are starting to go through all the ups and downs that young defensemen typically go through, and Xavier Ouellet and Karl Alzner are nothing more than depth defensemen at this point of their careers. This group really misses Weber. Give them credit because they’ve been able to hang in there until this point, but they might not be able to hold up much longer.

Through 12 games, he has a 5-4-3 record with a 3.07 goals-against-average and a .892 save percentage this season. Clearly, that’s not good enough. There’s no excuse anyone can make to defend him, but it’s impossible to to turn a blind eye toward the way the rest of the team has played lately (especially this week). Does a $10.5 million goalie have to bail them out once in a while? He sure does. But we’re into November. There’s still plenty of time for him and for them to get themselves back on the rails.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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