After sweeping the Edmonton Oilers in the First Round, there was a lot of hope for the Winnipeg Jets in their Second Round match-up against the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens had a hard-fought battle, going the distance with the Toronto Maple Leafs to upset them in Game 7. The Canadiens only had a one-day break heading into their matchup against the Jets, however, it hasn’t made a difference as the Canadiens have continued their winning ways, winning their sixth straight game and taking a 3-0 lead over the Jets. While the whole team has played extremely well, no one has been better than goaltender Carey Price.
Carey Price Helps the Canadiens Put a Stranglehold on the Winnipeg Jets
The biggest storyline heading into the series was the matchup between Price and Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck was outstanding in the first round, as the reigning Vezina Trophy winner posted an outstanding 1.60 goals-against-average with a .950 save percentage and a 4-0 record to go on to sweep Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.
However, in the second round, Carey Price has gotten the upper hand on his Winnipeg counterpart. While Price was outstanding in the first round against the Leafs, he has taken his game up a notch in the second round, posting a 1.33 goals-against average and .954 save percent while also recording a shutout. With a 3-0 record to boot, Price has now won six straight dating back to the first round. Something the Canadiens haven’t done in the postseason since 1993. Price is now sitting fourth amongst goaltenders who are still in the playoffs with a 1.97 goals-against-average and first in save percentage with a .938.
Carey Being Carey
While Price has been lights out during the postseason, hockey fans should not be surprised. Price tends to always raise his level of play in the postseason, posting a 2.37 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage in 80 career playoff games. He has also recorded eight shutouts.
Many fans had the star goaltender written off due to his “okay” regular season, however, at 34-years-old, Price is showing why he is regularly voted the league’s best goaltender by his peers. Making massive saves game in and game out in both series, Price never gives up on a play and honestly, makes a lot of his saves look quite easy. It’s a characteristic that Price has shown throughout his career. He is cool, calm and collected, and rarely finds himself out of position. However, even when you think there is no chance for Price to make a save, he comes up with a big one just like he did here against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And while he hasn’t had to make quite as difficult a save in this series, he has still put together some remarkable saves, like this one against Mark Scheifele in Game 1.
The Jets’ offence was outstanding in the first round, scoring 14 goals in four games against the Oilers. However, they’ve managed just four goals in three games against the Canadiens. Largely thanks to the play of Carey Price.
Not to be Forgotten
While Price has been the biggest key to the Canadiens getting out to a 3-0 lead, we can’t forget the rest of the roster. We talked about both teams having a ton of depth up front in the series preview, however, it’s been the Canadiens depth that has gotten the upper hand. Specifically, the fourth line of Corey Perry, Eric Staal and Joel Armia. The vets (Perry and Staal) have proven to be outstanding acquisitions and are stepping up when it matters for the Habs. While Armia is dominating in his own way, Staal and Armia are tied for second in scoring for the Habs with seven points, while Perry is tied for third with six.
But it’s not just the point production where the line excels. They’ve been dominating in puck possession, cycling the puck down low in the offensive zone and using their large frames to win puck battles. They control the play, and while neither of them has the most speed, they make up for it with smarts and size. You can see on Perry’s opening goal in Game 3, just how dominant this line really is.
Uphill Battle for the Jets
While the series isn’t over, the Jets have a tough battle in front of them. These Canadiens do not quit. They’re built the right way, and they’ve proved it throughout these playoffs thus far. And with the loss of Mark Scheifele due to a suspension from Game 1 after his hit on Jake Evans, it’s going to be even tougher for the Jets to pull it off.
However, it’s not over until it’s over. The Jets do still have a ton of firepower up front, and Connor Hellebuyck between the pipes. A goaltender can get hot and steal you a game and even a series and Hellebuyck certain has those capabilities as we saw in the first round. However, he is staring down a goaltender who also has those same abilities. A goaltender with much more experience doing so. And a goaltender who just doesn’t seem like he’s going to bend at all in these playoffs. Nor should we expect it. As he has never faltered his entire career in the playoffs. His name is Carey Price.