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6 Cities in 6 Days - The spotlight shines on Price

Bob McKenzie
9/24/2009 7:23:09 PM
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The Price had better be right this season for the Montreal Canadiens.

In a year where Bob Gainey got out the wrecking ball and virtually reconstructed his entire line-up, perhaps it is unfair to be shining the spotlight squarely on a 22-year-old, third-year pro.

But that is precisely the reality that Montreal goalie Carey Price faces this season.

In a season full of Canadiens' shortcomings, the poor play of Price was as glaring as anything. He was very good as a rookie, not very good as a sophomore, and where he goes in Year Three may well define him in the eyes of the Canadiens' fans.

With so many new moving parts -- Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri up front; Jaroslav Spacek, Hal Gill and Paul Mara on the blueline -- the goalie may have to buy time while new coach Jacques Martin puts together the jigsaw puzzle that is this year's Canadiens.

Many are predicting doom and gloom for the Habs. That they are too small. That they overpaid their free agents and will, in due course, be hamstrung by long-term deals for players past their prime. And all of that may come to pass.

But it's not a reach to suggest that newcomers Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri will score some goals, and if the Kostitsyn brothers and Tomas Plekanec rebound, offence may not be an issue for this team this year and could actually be a strong suit.

The defensive puzzle may be daunting to put together, although Jacques Martin-coached teams usually know what to do without the puck. It's possible that this group, much like Carolina in its Cup run a few years ago, could be greater than the sum of its parts.

But any way you slice it, it always comes back to Price and goaltending will either have to hold the fort while the Canadiens try to gel with their new teammates, or not be bad enough to discount any strong play if the team should come together quickly.

Honestly, I don't know what to make of a Montreal team with so many changes, but what I do know is that they're going to need A-level goaltending no matter what.

Be sure to follow TSN NHL Insider Bob McKenzie on Twitter at twitter.com/TSNBobMcKenzie.

Bob McKenzie

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