Wednesday night at the Bell Centre, Carey Price showed the league once more what makes the Montreal Canadiens so dangerous.
Namely, Carey Price.
The rest of his teammates didn’t really bother showing up until around the midway mark; the Canadiens were outshot 13-3 after 20 minutes. But Price kept his team afloat while the Canucks pelted him with shot after shot.
Despite allowing 42 shots against, the Canadiens did seem to find ways to deal with the most dangerous Canucks chances, pouncing on rebounds and breaking up passes to the slot. On the power play, the Canucks generated just four shots in five opportunities. When the Canucks did manage to get quality shots on net, Carey Price was there to shut the door.
In the second period, two odd-man rushes turned into a 2-0 Habs lead, with Nathan Beaulieu tucking away a Brendan Gallagher rebound, and Torrey Mitchell capitalizing on a Philip Danault feed. That was more than enough to secure victory on a night where the Canucks had no answer for Carey price.
It has to be a scary prospect for opponents: you can come into Montreal and dominate for three periods and you still might not earn a point. Heck, you might not even score a goal.
And here’s the worst part, this was about as bad as a performance you’ll see from the Canadiens (well, the ones who don’t wear goalie pads at least). So at their worst, the Habs, with Price there to bail them out, can still frustrate opponents and pick up points. At their best, or even somewhere in between, it’s tough to imagine another team keeping pace with them.
The Canadiens start November as the team to beat for a third straight season. Two years ago, they finished on top of the Atlantic division and lost in the second round to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last season, injuries to Price and Gallagher at the end of November but a rapid halt to the team’s meteoric rise.
This season, in the wake of the Weber – Subban trade, the pressure on the team to succeed is as high as it’s been in recent memory. There’s still plenty of hockey remaining, but a 9-0-1 start, even if some wins come on the back of super-human goaltending performances, is about as good as you could ask for.