Sometimes it seems like it doesn't take much for the Bell Centre crowd in Montreal to either give a raucous standing ovation or let loose with merciless booing, and it was the latter that rained down upon goaltender Carey Price during the Canadiens' first pre-season game on Wednesday night.
Price allowed four goals on eight shots in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, causing fans to jeer him as he was replaced by backup Curtis Sanford midway through the game.
On Thursday, Price attempted to calm the Habs' rabid fanbase by reminding them how early in the season it is.
"Relax, chill out, we have lots of time. We're not winning the Stanley Cup on the first exhibition game," he said. "I don't know what (the fans') message was but I don't think it's the correct way to go about things."
That said, Price did acknowledge that these types of things were an accepted part of playing in La Belle Province.
"That's the just the way it is, there's nothing we can really do about it," Price said.
"Wherever I go in the city, people are very courteous," he added. "Nobody's ever come up to me and said, 'You suck' to my face. I don't think anybody would ever do that. It's just that when you get in a crowd, people are a lot more brave."
At Thursday's practice, head coach Jacques Martin spent some one-on-one time with the netminder near centre ice.
"He just told me that it's the first exhibition game, so it's not going to go down in the history books. Let's move on," said Price.
The B.C. native is now the clear No. 1 goaltender in Montreal after the team traded upstart netminder Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis after a dazzling playoff run, meaning the 23-year-old Price will be facing extra pressure this year in the spotlight.
It's not as though Price himself made the decision to trade Halak, and the long-term results of that decision are not yet known, but Price's numbers have not been particularly strong in 2010. From January 1 to March 31, Price went 3-7-2 with a .909 save percentage. In the playoffs he was 0-1 with an .890 save percentage, with the vast majority of playing time going to Halak.
As for Wednesday night's performance, Price said he thought he should have stopped the first tally, but that other than that, they were good goals by the Bruins.
The goaltender's teammates were quick to defend him.
"We've all got his back and we're all supporting him," Habs forward Mike Cammalleri said after the game. "No one in here is booing him, so if everyone wants to identify with this team, we're all supporting him so jump on board."
Forward Mathieu Darche said Price is mentally stronger then he's ever seen him and the team just needs to move on.
"If he would have had the shutout, nobody would have said 'let's not get excited, it's the first preseason game,'" Darche said.
Price will have a chance to prove himself once the games count for real, as the Habs kick off their 2010-11 season on October 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.