Goalie Price at peak form with Canadiens in mid-season hot streak | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy

Goalie Price at peak form with Canadiens in mid-season hot streak

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) stops a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins' Brandon Sutter (16) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. The Canadiens are approaching the mid-way point in the NHL regular season on a streak, having won six games in a row and nine of their last 10. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Tom E. Puskar
January 05, 2015 - 2:36 PM

BROSSARD, Que. - Carey Price picked up two more honours Monday and, as usual, gave the credit to his red-hot teammates.

The 27-year-old was named the Montreal Canadiens player of the month for December (he has swept that award in all three months this season) and was the NHL's third star of the week Monday for a 3-0-0 performance in which he allowed only four goals.

Montreal has won six straight, the last five coming on the road, and nine of its last 10. In that span, the Canadiens have outscored their opponents 34-13.

Price started nine of the games while Dustiin Tokarski earned a 2-1 shootout win in Florida on Dec. 30. In short, Montreal is on a winning streak led by its goaltending.

"I get a lot of credit for the success that the team gets, when in reality, it's a collective effort," said Price. "I just kind of reap the benefit of that."

The streak has put Montreal (26-11-2) atop the Eastern Conference heading into a home game Tuesday night against their closest rival, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts (25-12-4) are tied with the Canadiens with 54 points, but have played two more games.

It's safe to say Price, drafted fifth overall in 2005, has entered the prime of his career.

Last season, he posted career bests with a .927 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average. He also helped a goal-stingy Canadian side win Olympic gold in Sochi, Russia.

This season, he is tied for fourth overall with a .929 save percentage and is fifth with a 2.14 GAA.

"We have two good goalies, but Carey has been there when we needed him and shut the door when we needed him," said defenceman P.K. Subban. " You need that to go deep in the playoffs.

"You need that to have a solid record and win games on the road. Right now, we're getting great goaltending."

The Canadiens are cautious about their recent success, not wanting to get too excited when they are only two games away from the midpoint of their regular season. The streak followed a 1-5-1 run from Nov. 23 to Dec. 6.

That prompted coach Michel Therrien to make changes, which included moving gifted 20-year-old Alex Galchenyuk from left wing to centre on the top line and dropping centre David Desharnais to left wing on the third unit.

The Galchenyuk line, with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, has produced 13 goals and 26 points in 10 games, while Desharnais has adapted well to the wing.

They also brought defenceman Nathan Beaulieu up from AHL Hamilton to replace injured veteran Mike Weaver. The 22-year-old has taken a large step forward, working his way on to the second pairing with veteran Sergei Gonchar.

"Going down (to Hamilton) was good because I got to play a lot of hockey," said Beaulieu, a 2011 first-round draft pick. "Since then, I'm just playing hockey the way I was inspired to play when I got drafted.

"Right now, things are going well. It's a comfort thing. You're more familiar with the players around you. And playing with a special player like Gonchar makes it easier."

In the first five games after the callup, Beaulieu played about 11 minutes per game. Since then, it's been 16-plus minutes, with a season-high of 19:20 at Carolina on Dec. 29.

The Canadiens are trying to build off a 2013-'14 campaign that saw them finish fourth in the conference with 100 points and reach the conference final before bowing in six games to the New York Rangers. Their playoff run included a four-game sweep of Tampa Bay and a bitterly fought seven-game series with Boston.

Now they're on pace for 110 points, but there is a lot of hockey left to play. And they have been mostly healthy so far.

Only third line-centre Lars Eller (five games), fourth-line winger Michael Bournival (13 games) and third pair defencemen Weaver (five) and Bryan Allen (five) have missed more than two games.

Most of the core players, including Subban, Markov, Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec and Brandon Prust, have played every game.

Right-winger Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau was among that group until he suffered an upper body injury Friday in New Jersey. Therrien said Parenteau is improving but won't play against Tampa Bay.

But health is not the only reason for their success so far.

"We're doing a lot of things well," said Subban "The focus has been there for the most part.

"When you're fatigued and away from home, maybe battling sickness or injuries, focusing on the details make the difference. Our attention to detail has been better on most nights than the other team so we have to continue that. Especially this week, when we have some great teams coming into our arena."

After Tampa Bay, the Canadiens are off until Saturday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Bell Centre. Montreal is coming off a 4-1 win in Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Their only meeting with the Lighting so far was Oct. 13, with the Bolts winning 7-1 at home to avenge their playoff defeat.

The Canadiens put Allen on waivers Monday. The veteran was acquired Nov. 20 from Anaheim for winger Rene Bourque, which got Bourque's contract off Montreal's books for next season. Allen's contract expires after this season. Therrien did not say what the team's plans are if Allen clears waivers.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

  • Popular kamloops News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile