SOCHI, Russia - The external noise that comes with being the starting goaltender for Team Canada at the Olympics isn't all that unfamiliar to Carey Price, who is immersed in a regular pressure-cooker back home in Montreal.
"I live inside a bubble anyway," said Price, who will start in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. "I don't get into too much about what anybody has to say really. I'm just out there just trying to do my job like everybody else."
If not tested much yet, the stoic Price has nonetheless done his job thus far, but it's now under the scope of elimination that pressure really picks up on the 26-year-old. Having been through the daily ringer with the Canadiens, however, he may be just the guy to withstand the heat.
"[Price] has that personality," said Jonathan Toews, "that he can just keep things even-keel even if half the city of Montreal wants to come have a word with him on his doorstep. But I think that's what makes him the type of goalie that we really trust in our locker room at this tournament."
Toews got a firsthand look at how Price, a Vancouver native, stays cool under fire seven years ago. Teammates during the 2007 World Junior Championships, Toews saw Price stoned any and all competition en route to gold in Sweden, earning tournament MVP with a 1.14 goals against average. It was then that the future Chicago Blackhawks captain foresaw star potential and a personality that seemed unshakeable.
"I don't think anything I knew about him then has changed now," said the 25-year-old Toews. "I think he's still the same relaxed guy that handles those sort of pressure situations pretty well."
Duncan Keith recalled Price's comments in the fall of 2010 when he told fans in Montreal to "relax" after they booed him during a preseason game at the Bell Centre.
"He told the fans to chill out and now I kind of see how he's like," said Keith of Price's tempered state of being. "When you have a goaltender that's relaxed and calm I think that can run through the rest of the guys when they see that. I think that's a good thing. It's a calming influence and in these type of games where there's a lot of pressure and a lot at stake you want to be composed and not panic."
Price has yet to face that level of pressure in these Olympics and it remains to be seen how exactly he'll manage under the highest levels of duress. Even the great Martin Brodeur slipped up on the Olympic stage, most recently in 2010 when he lost the starting job to Roberto Luongo following a poor performance against the Americans in the preliminary round.
Price wasn't tested much during Canada's final preliminary round game versus Finland this time around - just 15 shots with stiff defensive backing in his second start - but he did manage a key save or two along the way. Most notable among them was a blocker stop on Petri Kontiola with the score even at one in a tense third period.
"Just trying to stay alert, pay attention to details because in tight-scoring games that's what it comes down to is making sure that you're aware of any type of situation that may appear," said Price, emotions at an unrelenting equal equilibrium.
Insulated in many ways from any hint of Canadian pressure on the other side of the globe, Price believes his experience in Montreal will nonetheless be beneficial with the weight (and pride of course) of the red Maple Leaf on his chest.
Toews compared his teammate's ability to handle that pressure to the current no. 2 here in Russia, Roberto Luongo. "One day things are great and the next day things aren't so good if they don't play a solid game," said Toews. "I think those two guys have learned to just forget about the bad days and just move on and know that eventually things will come back."
There won't be any opportunity for bad days from here on in. A slip-up on this stage could cost the Canadians in their bid for a gold repeat.
"…at this point of my career I'm happy with the way things are going and I know what I need to focus on," he said. "I don't need to focus on what somebody else thinks I should be doing I know what I need to be doing."