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Carey Price was Montreal's thoroughbred workhorse and most valuable player last season, playing in the vast majority of games. Since the roster remains relatively unchanged, the pressure is on Carey to repeat or improve upon his performance from last year. The intriguing question coming into this season is: can he solidify himself as one of the league's elite and premier goaltenders by taking the Habs to the promised land and dominate in the playoffs?
During Alex Auld’s tenure as his backup in the 2010-2011 seasons, Price was forced to play a franchise-record 72 games. He certainly made the most of his starts, going 38-28-6 over that span, and his 38 wins were good for 1st in the NHL. With the acquisition of Peter Budaj for the 2011-2012, the thinking was that things were going to change in terms of Price’s workload. Not much changed drastically as he started in 65 contests, only missing 3 games due to a mild concussion suffered towards the end of the year. Nonetheless, despite an underachieving and unsuccessful campaign from an overall team/organizational perspective, Price resiliently compiled a (26-28-11) record while being named to the 2011-2012 NHL All-Star game.
Season stats: 65 GP, 28-26-11, 2.43 GAA, .916 SV%, 4 shutouts
Montreal fans expect no change in the status quo, positively speaking, meaning Price will start the majority of games yet again. But, I strongly believe that Budaj's abilities will be utilized extensively because it’s his contract year; he will be tested to see whether he’s capable of reducing Carey’s workload by starting a few more games to help solidify the Habs' goaltending situation going forward. If that experiment goes well as Price could earn consideration for the Hart, Vezina, and William Jennings trophies.
I think a well-rested Carey Price is very important for the club’s chances at success during the regular season and solidifying a playoff spot. If Budaj’s on top of his game and earns Therrien’s trust, then a more energetic Carey has an excellent chance at 35-40 wins, a top notch GAA, and SV% totals with a more manageable workload. He is a high end number one goalie in all fantasy league formats.