I’m neither a goalie nor a goaltending coach, which makes me as qualified as just about everyone else who’s weighed in on Carey Price’s woes, so here’s what I’ve got:
Every player and every team have their ups and downs over the course of a season, whether it’s a full six month grind or an abbreviated 48 game schedule, but Price is threatening to go beyond the typical garden variety slump, if he hasn’t already. Five or more goals in three of his last ten starts is not the stuff of Jacques Plante as much as it resembles the ill-fated exploits of Red Light Racicot. To the naked and untrained eye that can only go by what it’s seen in 40-plus years of watching goaltenders from Gump Worsley to Rick Wamsley to Steve Weeks, a big part of Price’s problem is that he’s on his knees as much as he’s on his feet, and it’s probably not a coincidence that just about every banana he gives up is in the upper half of the net. His body language also suggests there’s a crisis of confidence, which isn’t surprising for a guy who’s been lit up like Place Jacques Cartier at Christmas time in back-to-back starts and has a history of inconsistency.
It would be less disconcerting if Price had something on his resume (besides his contract) that defines him as elite, but he hasn’t had so much as a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, which is the most tangible measuring stick for elite goaltenders. None of what ails Price is insurmountable, but it’s disappointing and borderline discouraging that six years in, he’s still trying to sort himself out.