Price proves regular season is 'irrelevant'


Price proves regular season is 'irrelevant'

By DannyPicard

BOSTON -- If you're the gambling type, putting your money on the Bruins' offense over Carey Price at the TD Garden wasn't exactly a painful bet.

The last two times Montreal's top goaltender put on the white jersey and took to the pipes in Boston, he was embarrassed. On Feb. 9, Price allowed eight goals. On March 24, he allowed five before being yanked in the third period.

He latest trip to the Garden, however, wasn't nearly as forgettable. For on Thursday night, Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Canadiens' All-Star picked up his first playoff win since 2008 and his third career postseason shutout.

"Whatever happened in the regular season is pretty irrelevant right now," said Price after Montreal's 2-0 win over Boston. "It's a different season. It's a different kind of hockey. And tonight, like I said, it was an excellent road game."

Price made 31 saves on the night, including a flurry of shots in a second period in which the Bruins outshot the Habs, 18-6. And that shot differential could have been worse had Canadiens players not been diving all over the ice throughout the period, sacrificing their bodies to block Boston's shots.

The combination of the two led to a big fat zero on the scoreboard for the Bruins when Game One was all said and done.

"When you look at the kind of season Price had, he was our most valuable player," said Montreal coach Jacques Martin after the game. "He gave us a chance to win every night. We're very confident in his ability, and it's up to us to give him some help, some good protection. And that's why it should be a good series."

If Price continues to play like he did on Thursday night, it will be exactly why Montreal will continue to be in the series, if not advancing to the next round.

It's Price's game that headlines the blueprint to the Canadiens' success in this series. You just didn't really know what you were going to get out of him, especially at the Garden.

But just as much as his NHL-high 38 wins in the regular season are out the window, come playoffs, so are his second-most 28 losses.

And after being Jaroslav Halak's backup in last year's Eastern Conference Finals run, Price is trying to start a new postseason legacy, one that doesn't include getting swept by the Bruins in the first round, something he experienced as the team's starting goaltender two seasons ago.

So what's changed since his last playoff win, three seasons ago?

"I think I'm just more mature, I guess," said Price after Thursday night's shutout. "I've got an excellent group in front of me. We really play excellent defensively, so that helps me out a lot.

"You can't buy age or experience. I've gone through a lot since my last win in the playoffs."

He's gone from "Jesus" Price (a nickname bestowed upon him by the Habs' faithful) to Halak's backup, to an All-Star goalie who may or may not show up in a big game.

He showed up on Thursday night at the TD Garden, and his current teammates notice a difference.

"I think everybody's seen the maturity level," said Brian Gionta after his two-goal performance. "This time last year . . . he's changed a lot. His work ethic, his mental game really came about, and you saw the maturity starting. He carried it through the summer, and you saw the results through the season."

"He's one of the best in the world now," said Scott Gomez. "He's set that presence. Whether he likes it or not, he set the bar that high. He's been waiting for this.

"He's just an even-keeled guy," added Gomez. "He was a part of it last year. He's just on a different level now. Watch him in practice. Watch his presence. Watch the way he walks. He's been waiting for this. That's one area we're not really concerned with."

After his Game One shutout, everyone in the Montreal dressing room is all in on Price.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on