Canadiens playing the long game with Carey Price recovery
The Montreal Canadiens saw their 2015-16 season fall into a tailspin when they lost starting netminder Carey Price last fall.
Now, they’re seemingly determined to do everything in their power to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
The Canadiens have confirmed, via the Hockey News on Thursday, that Price will have a ‘start limit’ for the upcoming season – slowly easing him back into his role as the team’s number one, but trying not to push him too hard, too fast.
According to the team’s goaltending coach, Stephane Waite, the team will set a hard limit on the number of starts Price makes out of concern for his health. Presumably, Al Montoya – the free agent backup picked up by Montreal over the summer – will handle the remainder of the season.
Of course, all it takes is one game for an injury to occur. That’s what happened last year; Waite insists that the start limit plan was initially drawn up for the 2015-16 campaign, but was ultimately forgotten when the starter got injured early on in the year regardless.
Still, it’s a good move for a team that recognizes how valuable their Vezina-winning asset is to the team’s success.
In 2014-15, Price made 66 appearances (of a potential 82) during the regular season, putting up a mind-blowing .933 save percentage in all situations. He went 44-16-6 during the process, shutting out his opponents nine times and allowing just under two goals against per game on average.
As the team’s most valuable piece, though – and one that plays a position hard on the body – it’s somewhat understandable to see the club looking to put a cap on how many times he skates out as the starter throughout the year.
That being said, though, the team isn’t going to handle price with kid gloves – as Waite insists they shouldn’t.
“Mentally, it was important that he knows he can do anything, everything is fine,” suggested Waite, who said that Price is back to playing and performing exactly as he would in the past.
The Canadian netminder will also stand in net for his country during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, so he’ll have a nice, full schedule regardless. Knowing that the Canadiens hope to keep him as healthy as possible, though, is a good sign; they know where the wins come from, and they want to ensure that doesn’t change any time soon.