Carey Price looked at the puck in front of him in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Looking back at Price and his Canadiens teammates, it is clear that Price has a very difficult deficit. The Tampa Bay Lightning are down 3-0 and Price faces the possibility of being eliminated in Game 4. Price seems to be losing his edge after Montreal relied so heavily on him to make it through the playoffs. Some very poor shots have also contributed to this situation.
After Friday’s 6-3 loss, coach Dominique Ducharme stated in French that “We win as teams, but we lose as teams.” We all want to be better.
The Canadiens still need Price to play better than in the previous two games.
He was defeated twice by Tampa Bay’s defensemen Jan Rutta, and Victor Hedman in four minutes. This was part of a horrible start to Game 3. Tyler Johnson scored two goals on bad rebounds that were not Price-like.
His second game was not his best. Price surrendered a goal to Anthony Cirelli for a seemingly innocent shot. Blake Coleman won the backbreaker when he swung the puck with one hand and scored with 1.1 seconds remaining in the second period.
Price replied that he could play better in this series when he was asked how he felt about it. It’s just not good enough.
As a team, the Canadiens have not been able to deal with a strong, skilled Lightning opponent who knows how to win in playoffs. They won the final by getting traffic in front Price and scoring goals on shots that Price couldn’t see or blame for.
Luke Richardson, assistant coach for the Canadiens, said this week that Carey is always the rock back there. We need to ensure that he has enough support at the front.
Although the Canadiens may be able to provide more support for Price in the short term, they could still use a timely save from Price during this series. While he has made some impressive stops, he has also allowed 13 goals in three games. This is the same number as in the semifinal against Vegas. His save percentage is a mere.835
Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was allowed a margin of error for a soft goal or two during Game 3, has now stopped 92 out of 97 shots to earn a.948 save rate. He is now in contention for the Conn Smythe Trophy, the playoff MVP. Price won it six years ago as the best hockey player.
Ed Olczyk, NBC Sports analyst, stated that “They need Carey Price” to be on the same level as Andrei Vasilevskiy. “So far Vaslievskiy outplayed Carey Price in every way.”
Going into the final, the big question was whether Price could win a game or the entire series for Montreal. He did it in the previous rounds to get the Canadiens this far. Their style is dependent upon Price taking the lead and leaning heavily on Price, 33.
Price has not been able to steal a single game and the Canadiens are yet to lead in the final. This is not the Price, who won the gold medal at Sochi Olympics 2014 and the title at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, but he has been condensed into a 56-game regular season with 20 playoff games.
Jon Cooper, Lightning coach, praised Price’s performances. He said that Price exudes confidence and has a calm demeanour. He is able to turn the pages. He’s a player at the big moments and has developed into it.”
Price was Montreal’s greatest weakness in the Cup Final. Without Price’s game rights, the Canadiens are unlikely to win the series.