Let me get this out of the way first. Carey Price is arguably the best goaltender in the NHL right now. He has faced the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, and Steven Stamkos and has made outstanding saves against them. Price often stands on his head when the team is struggling to score goals. He is the reason the Montréal Canadiens have been winning in recent years. Price also helped lead Canada to a gold medal in men’s ice hockey at the last Winter Olympic games. So he is no slouch when he is in net. But last Saturday night, a 20-year-old phenom made the veteran goaltender look average, dare I say mortal.
Montréal was hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens had won 14 consecutive head-to-head match ups prior to Saturday’s game. Their last loss to the Buds was on January 19, 2014. That streak ended on Saturday and it was largely due to the play of Auston Matthews.
The Maple Leafs forward scored two of Toronto’s four goals in the game and he made Montréal’s number one goaltender look like a number two. Price stood there as if he was a deer crossing the road and a speeding pick up truck with its headlights on was heading right towards him. It is something hockey fans, not just those in Montréal, were not used to seeing.
Here’s Matthews’ first goal of the game (from @Goal_Leafs_Goal):
Matthews’ second goal came in overtime:
Price’s performance on Saturday reminded me of another Habs goaltender from back in the day, André (Red Light) Racicot. Racicot was the back up to Patrick Roy in the 1992-1993 season and was known to let in some goals that would normally be stopped.
If you are a fan of Team Canada, it is perhaps a good thing that there won’t be any NHLers playing at the Winter Olympics next year in PyeongChang. Matthews would likely make Swiss cheese out of Price if Canada and the US were to face off in a game.
There is a hashtag out for this Habs season, #Drivefor25. It is to symbolize the 24 Stanley Cup championships the Canadiens have won in the history of the franchise and their aim to get their 25th. But at this pace, they will be lucky to get to that number in wins this season.
The Habs have struggled out of the gate this season winning only once in their first five games (that one by the way was a shootout win over Ottawa in their first game of the season). I would bet that their fans will be willing to live with a lost season if their team can win all four head-to-head match ups with the Maple Leafs. That, however, changed on Saturday. Thanks in part to a boy from Arizona.