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Even though the games are meaningless, there's no question Carey Price's(notes) performance this preseason has given his critics a reason to grab a shovel and start tossing dirt on him before the Montreal Canadiens' 2010-11 campaign officially kicks off.

In his first two starts, Price made 30 saves on 40 shots; we're no experts, but that appears to be 10 goals surrendered in two starts. Which is heinous.

How bad was his first start at Bell Centre? The fans jeered him lustily for giving up four goals in 30 minutes, Price hid from the media after the game and passions were stirred to the point where a CBC reporter labeled Price critics as "separatists" and "idiots" via Twitter. (He since apologized, and his bosses are steamed.)

Last night, Price returned to Bell Centre for a preseason start against the Florida Panthers and was ... cheered? From the Montreal Gazette:

There were chants of "Ca-rey, Ca-rey" when the Canadiens took the ice at the start of the game, but the best show of support came after David Booth(notes) scored a power-play goal off a rebound to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

There were some boos as Price dug the puck out of the net, but they were quickly drowned out by the not-so-silent majority which offered a reprise of the Carey chant. Price went on to post his first win of the preseason, but he had lots of help from the crowd and his teammates who held Florida to 21 shots.

Montreal won the game, 6-2, with Price making 19 saves on 21 shots. In postgame interviews (mp3), he said, much like Marky Mark, he could feel the good vibrations. (OK, he didn't exactly put it that way.)

Q. Carey, did you notice the chants before the puck drop, and the crowd cheering you? You're focusing for the game, but did that register with you?

PRICE: Oh yeah. It's nice to have the crowd behind all of us. It really helps us. It makes things a whole lot easier. It helps all of us, not just me.

Q. Did you hear before the national anthem them saying your name "Car-ey, Car-ey"?

PRICE: Oh yeah. They were very supportive and it was very appreciated. It just makes things way easier on me and on my teammates.

Did giving up 10 goals and having half the city crushing his spirit in a post-Halak world actually create a wave of sympathy for Carey Price that wouldn't have been there otherwise? 

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