Colour Commentary: Carey Price returns

A new chapter for the Montreal Canadiens began on Friday night.

Carey Price returned to the Bell Centre on Friday night, where he would be given a heart-warming welcome from the crowd. This would be the NHL’s highest paid goaltender’s first game since Montreal’s 1-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 7 in the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals. The Canadiens have had a rough season without their star goalie and have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. 

The Canadiens’ netminder allowed two goals against 19 shots in his return versus the New York Islanders. The Habs would go on to lose 3-0, after Islanders forward Brock Nelson scored an empty-net goal late in the third period. 

For the game, Nelson would get a goal and an assist, with two shots on goal. The Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin also had an impressive performance, shutting out the Canadiens and making 44 saves. 

Despite the loss, the Canadiens and Price have come a long way. Price has had many hurdles since his last game in July. He had knee surgery on July 23 and has struggled during his recovery. He also entered the NHL’s player assistance program on Oct. 7 before the start of the 2021-22 season.

This is only the beginning of a new chapter, only time will tell what’s in store for the Canadiens’ star goaltender.  


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


The good and bad of the Jake Allen trade

Having two good goalies is a key to any NHL team’s success

Excluding Carey Price, nine goalies have started at least one game for the Montreal Canadiens since the start of the 2013-14 National Hockey League (NHL) season.

Finding a reliable second goalie at a reasonable price has been a problem for the Habs since Peter Budaj was Price’s substitute from 2011 to 2014. The team’s general manager (GM) Marc Bergevin made a significant move on Sept. 2, 2020 in order to solve that problem. The GM acquired veteran Jake Allen from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a third-round and a seventh-round draft pick. Allen will play the last of a four-year contract next season with the Habs, and will have a $4.35 million cap hit.

The good:

Allen lost his starting position during the 2018-19 season when young goaltender Jordan Binnington made a solid impression on the Blues during the Stanley Cup playoffs, helping the team win its first championship in franchise history.

Allen probably lost value because of Binnington’s dominance in goal, which can explain how the Habs managed to get him for two draft picks. However, it doesn’t mean he lost talent. In fact, Allen finished this season second in the NHL for goals against average (GAA) with 2.15, and fourth for save percentage with .927, both career bests in the league.

A problem these past few seasons was that Price was over-used by playing too many games, including back-to-back games in 48-hour spans. With Allen, not only will the Canadiens have two trusted goalies they can send against any team, but Price will be able to rest more. It’s easy to imagine that Price will also feel a weight off his shoulders now that he’s not the team’s only hope between the pipes.

The bad:

With that salary, Allen will need to perform, especially since he’ll not play as much as he could elsewhere in a bigger role. Not every team has the chance to have two goaltenders who can act as starters. Teams who do, however, usually don’t have a superstar like Price.

Many backup goaltenders can win from 10 to 20 games per season and start from 15 to 30 games. Allen could easily exceed these numbers, but likely won’t get that chance in the 2020-21 season with Price in the starting role.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Canadiens will re-sign him, considering that both Allen and Price are aging veterans looking for ice-time. If not, it’ll be interesting to see why the team traded for a single season of Allen, and didn’t try a similar trade in the past two or three years instead.

It’s yet to be seen whether or not Allen will solve the Habs goalie problems.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion


Colour commentary: Carey Price not appreciated enough

Canadiens goalie record-setting win is another accomplishment in great career

I remember the first time I watched Carey Price on TV; Canada was playing the United States at the 2007 World Junior Championships, and the semi-final game went to a shootout. The shootout lasted seven rounds but Price made three huge saves, including the last on Peter Mueller, to send Canada to the final, which they won. I remember thinking, “Wow, this guy is a Montreal Canadiens prospect.”

Fast forward 12 years, and Price is more than just a Montreal Canadiens player. On March 5, he tied Jacques Plante for most wins in franchise history, with 314. In a franchise that’s been around for 110 years, with its many legends and all-time greats, Price is now number one for wins.

Although Price has often been criticized, Canadiens fans of this generation are so lucky to have him. I don’t think we truly appreciate just how good Price is.

With a career 314-220-67 record, Price also has a career .918 save percentage and 2.47 goals-against average (GAA). Since becoming the Canadiens’s full-time starter in 2010-11, he’s only had two seasons with a GAA higher than 2.50: 2.59 in 2012-13, when he played 39 games, and 3.11 last season when the Canadiens finished third to last in the league.

We definitely can’t forget about Price’s 44-win 2014-15 season, in which he had a career-best 1.96 GAA, which is just mind-blowing. It’s a no-brainer that he won the Hart Trophy as the league’s best player that year.

There is one thing missing from Price’s trophy cabinet, and that’s a Stanley Cup. Pessimistic fans will be quick to criticize Price’s career with the Canadiens for this reason, since Plante and Ken Dryden won six, while Patrick Roy won two with the Habs and two more with the Colorado Avalanche.

However, these Hall of Fame goalies had Hall of Fame players in front of them. Price doesn’t, except for a potential Hall of Famer in Shea Weber—who’s only been with the Habs since 2016. Plante played on the 1950s dynasty team, which included 12 Hall of Fame members from Jean Beliveau to Maurice Richard. Dryden’s team in the 1970s had 11 members in the Hall of Fame.

It’s a shame Price couldn’t have played on better Canadiens teams. They came close in 2014, as he carried them to the Conference Final before getting injured. This season, he’s helped carry the Habs past expectations as they continue to fight for a spot in the playoffs. We can only hope this young team will improve and Carey Price will finally win his Stanley Cup.


The best from the 2018 sports year

Besides Montreal’s losing teams, fans had fun things to watch

The past 12 months in the world of sports have seen plenty of interesting stories. Montreal sports teams can’t find a way to win, a king found a new home while a prince emerged in Russia, and we saw sports can be fun sometimes. Here is The Concordian’s 2018 sports year in review.

No playoffs in Montreal

Since 1995, at least one of the Montreal Canadiens, Alouettes or Impact have qualified for the postseason in any given year. For the first time since then, none of Montreal’s men’s professional sports teams made the playoffs in their respective leagues.

The Canadiens finished the 2017-18 season with a 29-40-13 record, missing out on the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Goalie Carey Price did not look like the MVP goalie he was in 2015, posting a 12-19-9 record with an 89.5 save percentage and 3.22 goals-against average in 2018. The Canadiens also traded captain Max Pacioretty, which originally did not look so good, but things are improving for the team.

The Impact and Alouettes both had new head coaches this year, going 14-16-4 and 5-13 in their respective seasons.

You can’t forget the Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, who finished first with a 22-5-1 record. They were upset by the Markham Thunder in the first round of the playoffs, with a 2-0 series sweep. So really, no professional team in this city won a playoff game in 2018.

The Philly Special

Who says there can’t be fun in the pressure-filled world of professional sports? The Philadelphia Eagles certainly had fun at the Super Bowl in February. Up 15-12 in the second quarter, with a fourth down on the one-yard line against the New England Patriots, the Eagles ran a trick play to throw a touchdown pass to quarterback Nick Foles. The play has become known as “The Philly Special” and it’s probably one of the boldest calls ever made in a championship game.

The Eagles had perfect execution on the play. Foles fooled the Patriots’s defence by pretending to bark out orders to his linemen, before scrambling off to the side for the open catch.

Mbappé shines in Russia

The FIFA World Cup is meant for players to shine, and French forward Kylian Mbappé did exactly that. He helped France win the World Cup, and tied in second for most goals scored at the tournament with four. He made his mark in the round of 16 match against Argentina, where he scored two goals four minutes apart in the win, including the game-winning goal.

Mbappé’s strength and speed showed the world he’s the next soccer star. The 19-year-old won the tournament’s best youngest player award, and he also completed his permanent transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, worth over CAD$250 million. What a year for Mbappé.

James heads to Los Angeles

After spending four seasons back with the Cleveland Cavaliers, basketball superstar LeBron James decided to join the L.A. Lakers. The Lakers finished last season with a 35-47 record, but with the help of James, they’ve instantly become a much better team.

James’s exit from Cleveland shifted powers in the league, putting the stars and best teams, like Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, in the Western Conference. The Toronto Raptors also traded fan-favourite DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard, becoming the beasts of the Eastern Conference in the off-season.

Graphic by Ana Bolokin.


Colour commentary: Habs defence needs to be better

Montreal Canadiens offence is clicking, but they’re still losing

The Montreal Canadiens’s start to the season has been a promising one: they have an 11-7-4 record and sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Not many people, including myself, expected the Habs to be this good this season, so it’s been a pleasant surprise.

One particular stand-out is forward Max Domi. When the Canadiens acquired him in June for Alex Galchenyuk, fans were outraged, mainly because Domi scored nine goals last season with the Arizona Coyotes. Now, he has 26 points in 24 games, and had an 11-game point streak until the Habs’s loss on Nov. 23 against Buffalo.

New acquisition Tomáš Tatar is impressing fans with his work ethic and scoring ability, while Jonathan Drouin is finally becoming the player people expected him to be. 18-year-old rookie sensation Jesperi Kotkaniemi doesn’t look out of place either.

Despite all the promise they have offensively, the biggest worry for the Habs in this young season is their defence. They’ve allowed the fifth-most goals in the NHL, with 81, and no other team in a playoff spot has allowed more than 75. They’re lucky their 74 goals for is one shy of the top-10 in the league, which explains why they’ve been winning games.

The Habs defence is to blame for allowing so many goals—not goalie Carey Price. When looking at the Habs defence, players like David Schlemko, and Jordie Benn just aren’t good enough for today’s fast NHL. Even a young player like Victor Mete, who had the potential to be a first-pairing defenceman, struggles to defend bigger players. At this point, Jeff Petry carries the defence, as he averages 24:57 ice time per game, which is the second-most in the Atlantic Division.

This Habs defence core is really missing captain Shea Weber, who will be returning from an injury as early as Nov. 27. Weber brings a style of play that is both physical and calm—he knows when to pick up the tempo or slow it down. There’s no other defenceman who can do that right now.

Still, even with Weber back, Price will still need a good defenceman on the left side. Too many times this season have the Canadiens allowed a player open on the left side to score. I think the Habs are one good left-handed defenceman away from being a strong team, but for now, they will struggle to hold the fort defensively.

Until the defence can improve, the Habs have to rely on Price to stand on his head and bail his team out. But you can’t expect him to bake a cake without eggs or milk.


Previewing the 2017-18 Montreal Canadiens season

Even with a number-one centre in Jonathan Drouin, Habs still face plenty of problems

After a disappointing first-round loss in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens fans are hoping the team will redeem itself this season. The Habs start the 2017-18 season on Oct. 5 against the Buffalo Sabres. The Concordian previews the good, the bad and the unknown of the Montreal Canadiens 2017-18 season.

The Good: Jonathan Drouin. The Canadiens acquired the 22-year-old centre from the Tampa Bay Lightning in a trade in June. General manager Marc Bergevin acquired Drouin to have a number-one centre and to add strong offensive scoring, two of the team’s weaknesses from last season. Drouin scored 53 points last season, and will add offensive firepower to the Canadiens as the first-line centre.

Drouin will almost certainly become a fan-favourite in Montreal. The Ste-Agathe, Que., native has said it was always his dream to wear the bleu-blanc-rouge. His agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted a picture of a Canadiens cap on which Drouin wrote: “There’s no place like home.”

The Bad: The Canadiens defence. In the off-season, the Canadiens lost Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin, two of their best defencemen from the past few seasons. They replaced Emelin with Karl Alzner, but Montreal still hasn’t found a replacement for Markov to play alongside Shea Weber.

The Canadiens will have a hard time replacing Markov’s crisp vision and accurate passing. In the preseason, 19-year-old Victor Mete played with Weber. Although Mete’s strong skating and smart passing is much like Markov’s, should the teenager make the team, he won’t be able to fill Markov’s skates. Even though Mete impressed coaches and fans with his play in the preseason, Mete just lacks the intelligence and experience the 38-year-old Markov had. Having no seasoned top-pairing defenceman to play with Weber will hurt the Canadiens this season.

The Unknown: Depth scoring. The Canadiens’ lack of scoring is what put the final nail in their coffin last year. They just couldn’t score in the playoffs—when it mattered most. Even with Drouin, the Canadiens still have very little offensive firepower.

They lost right winger Alex Radulov, who had 54 points last year, and replaced him with veteran Ales Hemsky, who had seven points in 15 games last season. Wingers Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk had 29 and 44 points respectively, and will need to increase their point totals this year. Who will provide the depth scoring? We will have to wait and see.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

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