Carey Price Ask a Pro: Tips and Drills from Canadiens’ Star
Carey Price was having a tough practice at the end of an admittedly frustrating season.
The Montreal Canadiens’ star stopper had already made kindling of two sticks across the top of his cross bar. So much for the notion Price doesn’t care enough.
As practice came to an end, however, Price was not among the first to bail for the locker room. Instead he sought out goaltending coach Pierre Groulx for some extra situation-specific work after practice. So much for the theories he doesn’t work hard enough.
Price even stuck it out after cutting one of his toe ties during the drill, stopping several times to try and get the loose lace tied back on at least enough to continue working.
As for what he was working on, a still-steaming Price dismissed the inquiring minds of the media scrum after a couple of pointed, poorly timed post-practice questions about the frustration of a lost season, but then graciously took 15 minutes for some one-on-one time with InGoal to go over the things he was working on, and take a handful of Ask a Pro questions from our readers.
It started with a review of his late-practice session with Groulx (InGoal has some video highlights below), which Price said was based on giving up a goal to Calgary captain Jarome Iginla earlier in the week (NHL.com video also below) on a bit of a broken play after a blocked shot left Price over-committed and unable to get across for a wraparound after Iginla cut behind the net.
So Price worked on his movements out of VH, or one-pad down, with Groulx.
“It’s the minor adjustments that are important, things you don’t really think about doing in a game but that’s why you practice, so you don’t have to think about it,” Price told InGoal after the extra session. “Like a small adjustment like that. I got beat from the side of the net by Iginla in Calgary so then you come back and go over the things you should have done correctly and try to drill it into you so you don’t have to think about it when it comes to game time.”
Here is the video of the goal:
… and here is the video from Price’s response while working with Groulx:
That’s also the perfect place to start this week’s Ask a Pro with Price, since his silky smooth crease movements, especially on the knees, was a favourite subject – along with questions about his new Reebok equipment – for the InGoal inquisitors:
~ InGoal reader David Alexander asks: Carey seems to be a guy who tends to get his body in front of pucks in tight, especially on rebounds. In particular he tends to make some tremendous saves on rebounds in tight, but makes them look so easy. Could he talk about what he does to get his body in front of so many pucks in tight as opposed to opening up in a desperation format. Obviously his power pushes are outstanding, but are there any other keys he uses. And Marc Bidder adds: Carey always seems so square to the puck and his angles are always on, without being too far outside the paint. What does he do to practice this and what can we do to improve our positioning/angles/anticipation?
Carey Price: “I think that’s credited to Rollie (Melanson, the former Canadiens’ and current Canucks’ goalie coach) actually. My first four years, that’s all we did was movement drills, especially down. The move while I was down was always my strength and being able to cover the bottom of the net has been a strength since working with Rollie.”
~ InGoal follow up: are we seeing some more pop-up recoveries in the mix these days too?
Carey Price: “Yeah, I mix it up. I’ve been a lot more just reacting and I know Tim (Thomas) is a big believer in just doing whatever it takes, so I kind of mix it up more now.”
~ InGoal Facebook fan Cody Osborne asks: Any crease movement drills – mainly butterfly slides/recovery – you can recommend?
Carey Price: “Yeah, one of the movement drills we do a lot is start on the post and go out towards the far dot, squaring up to the far dot, and then back to the short-side post and back across. We do that one a lot, and then mix it up going to the short-side dot first and then back across to far post. Those are the basic warm up drills we do, just mimicking movements in the game.”
~ InGoal reader Scott Forbes asks: He always has such a calm and cool swagger when he plays. When things are not going well how does he maintain that swagger?
Carey Price: “I think it’s a bit of both experience and personality. It’s just about being confident and enjoying what you are doing. You get frustrated obviously at times, obviously, just from being a competitive person, and I think I just have a blend of competitiveness and cockiness and attitude I guess.”
~ InGoal Facebook fan Tristan Helik asks: Playing as a goaltender is all about focus. Is it difficult to focus and play in a city like Montreal? How does he react to the pressure? Jason Wakeley adds: When a lot of people wrote you off as a starter what did you do to prepare yourself mentally to overcome that obstacle? And InGoal wonders about the frustration of hearing how calm and composed he looks when the Canadiens are winning, but that it is interpreted as being too casual or not trying when they are losing?
Carey Price: “I’ve learned not to listen. You grow thick skin when you play in a hockey market, any guy will tell you that, whether it’s Loungo here in Vancouver or (James) Riemer or (Jonas) Gustavsson in Toronto. It’s just the nature of the position and markets and if it hasn’t changed in the last 100 years it’s not going to change in the next 100.”
~ InGoal reader Nicholas Giroux asks: Got any tips for playing the puck?
Carey Price: “I think the key to puckhandling is being aware of the forecheck. We do a lot of scouting of other teams forechecks so we kind of know what they are going to be bringing. So being prepared for a 2-1-2, or a 1-2-2, you have to know what is coming at you, and that makes a really big difference when you are going out of the crease to play the puck.”
~ InGoal Facebook fan Daryle Gessner asks: Have you read “The Game” and if so what point from the book really rang true? Also, what are your go-to music pre- and post-game? And Tyler Wenande wonders: How do you get in “the zone” before every game?
Carey Price: “The Game, no I haven’t read it yet, and I don’t really have any specific music. I just listen to whatever is blaring on the stereo in the room. This year there is more country music, though (Price participates in rodeo during the summer months). I think I pull a little bit more weight in the room. When I first came here I wouldn’t have been able to get a country song on the stereo to save my life but now, even this morning, that’s all we played was country, so that’s changed a little. But I’m pretty normal in my preparation. I just do some stretching and whatnot. I get dressed really early. I start getting dressed about half an hour before warm ups. A lot of guys will start getting dressed like 10 minutes before warm up, but I am usually in my gear like 15 minutes before I get on the ice for warm up. I do a lot of just thinking about what we talked about in our morning meetings, about their power play set ups, or their forechecking for instance. I think about a lot of things like that.”
~ InGoal reader B. Hill writes: Ask him why he switched to the the Reebok P4’s and I heard he spent a lot of time tinkering and modifying his new P4’s? What kind of things has he done to these pads?
Carey Price: “My pad has actually evolved this season. Even from when I switched in the summertime to now, it’s a very different pad. I put the knee strap down there (onto the outer wrap by the calf) so it reduces the binding behind the knee. And I started out with no breaks in the pad, but found it really stiff and I found it really hard to overlap (in front of my knees) so I found I wound up going down like Giguere, with a really narrow butterfly and the pads not closed in front of me and depending on the kneepads to close the 5-hole. And I’d never played like that before so over the course of the season I added the middle break (at the knee, both external and internal) and I just recently added the pre-curve up top. This is my first set of pads with the pre-curve above the knee. It’s good, it really helps close the 5-hole a lot, especially on tips and stuff, where you are kind of reaching, it just closes up and seals. … It’s a very consistent pad in terms of both how it arrives and the way it breaks down. I just like the way it feels on the ice more than anything, I find it’s the best pad for sealing the ice that I’ve tried.”
~ InGoal follow up: We can see you’ve also removed the knee cradle, putting only the thin piece back on top of the knee stack itself to maintain the overall thickness of the area you land on, but keeping the rest wide open to allow the pads to rotate even more easily around your kneepads. Have you changed anything else around the knee area?
Carey Price: “I actually use the IIHF kneestack, I don’t use the NHL regulation one, so it’s actually smaller. It’s shorter (width wise). Just because when I was trying to bring my knees together, the corners of the stack would come together and leave a space between my knees above it. If they were a bit too long I couldn’t get everything else closed above them, so I found shortening that up allowed my kneepads to come together.”
Price had a few more answers for InGoal, including about the changes he’s made in both his initial depth and glove positioning in the NHL, and a great response to custom stick questions from Dec Ryan and Joe Pippel. But we are going to save those for the next edition of the InGoal Digital Magazine, including a how-to tip based on the stick response that can help your puck handling!
So stay tuned, and in the meantime a big thank you to Carey for taking the time to talk to InGoal Magazine, and be sure to check out the photos below for more shots of how his gear is working for him: