Daily Hab-it: Price hits unprecedented usage
Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) scores a goal against Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
By Arpon Basu
Published Monday, December 27, 2010 5:25PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:11AM EDT
I don't want this to sound like I'm blaming Carey Price for the recent swoon of the Canadiens, because it is clearly not on his shoulders alone.
The number of odd man rushes and breakaways he's faced over the past couple of weeks are alarmingly high, and the Canadiens have been making far too many turnovers at either blue line of late.
Those usually turn into prime scoring opportunities.
But Price appears to have lost something over the last little while, allowing a soft goal here and there, but also not bailing his teammates out with a clutch save in a key moment as often as he was doing at the beginning of the season.
His save percentage over his last seven starts is a very pedestrian .870, and while his season number remains outstanding at .923, the Canadiens will not win many games if Price is stopping fewer than nine out of 10 shots.
The natural assumption to make is that Price is tired because he's played nearly as many minutes already this season (1,980) as he did all of last season (2,358).
In fact, with three games still remaining before we flip the calendar over to 2011, this is already the most Price has ever played prior to New Year's Day in his whole life.
I'm making an assumption here that Price never hit the 2,000-minute mark in the first three months of the season in Midget hockey, but I think that's a pretty safe bet.
Otherwise, the most minutes Price has ever played before Jan. 1 was in 2004-05, when Price was in nets for 1,916 minutes for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League.
That season, Price entered 2005 with a 13-12-3-4 record (the last number represents ties, remember them?), 2.31 goals against average and .909 save percentage. From Jan. 1 onward, Price had an 11-15-1-4 record, but his save percentage was up at .923 and his GAA was down to 2.17.
So, that season at least, his early workload did not appear to have adverse affect on how he finished the season.
But that was six years ago, and Price has played a ton of hockey since then.
The one year that may have competed with the current one was 2006-07, the season where Price's legend was born.
By Dec. 6, 2006, Price had played 1,197 minutes when he left Tri-City for Team Canada's world junior camp. With all the minutes he would have logged in scrimmages, plus the 370 minutes he logged in the tournament itself, it's not inconceivable that he may have topped the 2,000-minute mark by Jan. 1, 2007. But it's not all that likely, either.
In any case, as you'll see from the numbers below, Price had almost always been a second half goalie before he fell into that abyss of mediocrity at the 2009 All-Star Game. Maybe he'll pick that trend back up this season in spite of the fact he's playing more than he ever has before.
Carey Price's career stats before and after Jan. 1
Pre Jan. 1 - 4-5-1-1, 700 MP, 2.31 GAA, .909 SP
Post Jan. 1 - 4-4-0-2, 662 MP, 2.45 GAA, .919 SP
Pre Jan. 1 - 13-12-3-4, 1916 MP, 2.50, .917
Post Jan. 1 - 11-15-1-4, 1796 MP, 2.17, .923
Pre Jan. 1 - 12-11-3-1, 1645 MP, 2.81, .911
Post Jan. 1 - 9-14-1-2, 1428 MP, 2.94, .901
Pre Jan. 1 - (WHL) 12-7-0-0, 1198 MP, 2.75, .904
(WJC) 6-0-0, 370 MP, 1.14, .961
Post Jan. 1 - (WHL) 18-6-1-0, 1525 MP, 2.20, .927
(AHL) 16-7-0, 1431 MP, 2.01, .937
Pre Jan. 1 - 9-7-0, 1075 MP, 2.79, .911
Post Jan. 1 - (NHL) 7-3-1, 666 MP, 2.88, .916
(AHL) 6-4-0, 581 MP, 2.69, .896
Pre Jan. 1 - 16-4-5, 1513 MP, 2.30, .921
Post Jan. 1 - 7-12-5, 1519 MP, 3.36, .891
Pre Jan. 1 - 10-13-3, 1592 MP, 2.68, .914
Post Jan. 1 - 3-7-2, 763 MP, 2.99, .909
Pre Jan. 1 - 19-12-2, 1980 MP, 2.27, .923
Post Jan. 1 - ?????