So we’re playing Buffalo, the Jaroslav on the other team scores, making it 3-0, and all of the sudden everyone’s really missing our Jaro, who is out with the flu.
The burning question in everyone’s mind is what happened to Carey Price? How did he go from being the most loved 21-year-old in Montreal (though Guillaume Latendresse was giving him a run for his money, at least in the French media) to playing the worst hockey probably of his career?
Being a psych major, I have been thinking about this a lot. Is it his age? Is it a motivation problem? Confidence? Lack of practice (or the right kind of practice)? Not knowing how to deal in stressful situations?
I think it’s actually all of the above, though some points stick out more than others. Here’s my breakdown of the situation:
1) Carey is one of the youngest goalies we’ve had in a while. Huet and Theodore (in the last few years anyway) were older and had more experience. Don’t get me wrong, age isn’t everything. Price is pretty mature and has always showed how calm and collected he is, but right now something isn’t clicking in that department. When I would watch a game that he was playing in at the beginning of this year, it seemed as though he exuded a sort of “calmness” over the entire team as well as myself. How many goalies can do that? Not many. But now, that’s gone… and with it the team’s confidence in their goalie.
2) He doesn’t seem motivated. I think he really cares about what happens, and that he wants to play, but his lack of confidence is affecting this. Jaro is playing well, and seemingly taking his job out from under him, and normally this should cause him to elevate his game, but that’s just not happening. Something is missing there.
3) His confidence is just completely gone. He seems shaky and nervous about a lot, which he never did before. They showed him before the game, in the dressing room, and normally the guys are smiling or just sitting calmly, but he looked so nervous and stressed that it made you wonder if Halak was the only sick one on the team.
4) His practicing techniques have been an issue of late, because it seems when he gets nervous, which has been a lot lately, he goes down onto his knees too early, and people have been saying he should work on this more. He needs to somehow find a way to realize that he shouldn’t go down too early without making him think about it too much. Maybe some mental image or focusing on someone… But I don’t think he has a problem with technique or skill. He works hard, and that’s the most important part. He also needs to realise he had skill and technique before he started playing like this and that obviously didn’t just disappear overnight.
5) He had a good way of dealing with stressful situations before… or rather it came naturally to him, since his personality allowed for it. But now that something has changed, he needs to find a way to adapt, and someone, either Rollie Melanson, one of the other coaches, or maybe a sport psychologist, should be helping him with this. Self-talk (what he should be thinking in these situations) is important, and if he doesn’t know how to do this properly, it can really affect his game in the long run.
So there you have it. Price has a lot to work on, and I think the Canadiens’ management knows this, and I think that they are responsible for some of it. They need to help him get out of this funk. I had said that he had to come back to a winning team, and now that he has and is still not playing his best, I think I need to rephrase what I had initially said: He needs to come back to a team who is winning because they are playing well.
In the past 4 games, Jaro stole the show. To be honest, I don’t even know how much better the team has been playing compared to when they were in their slump except for the fact that Plekanec and Kovalev woke up, our power play has started to click, and that we finally have solid goaltending. Our defence is still pretty shoddy, and though our forwards are working hard, they aren’t producing as much as they can. We can be a better team than the one that has been playing, but it’s so rare that everyone is “on” at the same time.
Carey needs to get back on the horse and realise that he’s got what it takes. People believe in him for a reason. He just has to learn not to give up on himself.
P.S. A little off topic but: Why Luc Gelinas, during the intermission, wished Derek Roy luck for a hat trick, is beyond me… That’s just asking for trouble!