I really don't want to get into why I was curious to look this up, but Carey Price's struggles of late (25 goals against in five games) strike me as odd, simply because I always believed his positional style wasn't prone to slumps like this.
So, just out of sheer curiosity and not necessarily because I believe Price will ever be in their league, I thought I'd look back to the early years in the careers of Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. Of course, everyone made the comparison between Roy and Price as being rookie goalies who led their teams to Calder Cup championships in the AHL, and obviously Price wasn't up to the challenge of living up to Roy's other rookie exploit in the NHL.
But there was something interesting I found in Roy's career stats that may give the Jesus Price faction some hope. Roy's two worst statistical regular seasons came in 1985-86 and 1992-93, and I don't think I need to tell you what makes those years significant.
In 85-86, Roy had a 23-18-3 record with a 3.35 goals against average and an .875 save percentage. His GAA and save percentage were the worst of his career, which was to be expected since he was a rookie. But he was 15-5 in the playoffs with a 1.92 GAA and .923 save percentage in the playoffs.
In 92-93, Roy was 31-25-5 with a 3.20 GAA and a .894 save percentage. It was the most regular season losses of his career, and the GAA and save percentage were each second-worst in his career after his rookie season. The playoffs were obviously a different story with a 2.13 GAA and .934 save percentage.
In Brodeur's case, I found it interesting that his second season in the NHL was the worst of his career, even though his numbers would be the envy of 99 per cent of NHL netminders. In 1994-95, Brodeur had a career-worst 2.45 GAA and .902 save percentage in a lockout-shortened year, but the numbers improved to a 1.67 GAA and .932 save percentage in the playoffs en route to the Stanley Cup.
So to recap, Roy won the Cup in his two worst statistical regular seasons, while Brodeur also "struggled" by his lofty standards in season number two yet still won his first Cup.
Having said all that, I think Price's performance in last year's playoffs showed that he may not have the same competitive drive and killer instinct of either Roy or Brodeur. Not even close, in fact. But I wanted to show that just because Price is struggling does not mean his season, much less his career, is a total bust. He has time to find it and become the goalie the Canadiens need.
He's going to have to, because as great as Jaroslav Halak has been playing of late, it's clear that the franchise is being hitched on to Price's shoulders. Right or wrong, no one can argue that is the situation, and Price needs to start proving his GM right very soon.