Potential All-Star Price paying off for Canadiens Staff

11/5/2008 4:10:16 PM

With perennial All-Star Martin Brodeur out for the long haul, the time is right for a changing of the gardien.

But Montreal's sophomore goaltender Carey Price needn't worry about enough support, as Canadiens fans are sure to stuff the ballot box in anticipation of their city hosting the NHL All-Star Game in January.

"I'll probably vote for myself a few times," Price joked with reporters on Wednesday. "I don't know how many times I can vote for myself, but I'll probably have a lot of support for myself back home."

If anything, it's Price's strong play through the first month of the regular season that's building his case for the starting spot. His 2.17 goals-against average is seventh in the league and he's fifth in save percentage at .928.

His hot start is a stark contrast from six months ago, when he looked sluggish in a five-game knockout at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. While Price said he was was burnt out playing high-tempo hockey for well over a year, he was also out of shape. Like most single 21-year-old hockey players, his idea of making haute cuisine is opening a bottle of pasta sauce and splashing it on noodles.

"Don't come over for dinner," warned Price. "I will poison you. But I could make a pretty good egg salad sandwich and canned soup."

That being said, the Anahim Lake, B.C. native got back to basics in his much-needed offseason. After a summer of hunting, fishing and eating better, he came to camp looking fit after shedding 28 pounds.

"His work ethic and his workout regimen to his eating habits have been great," said defenceman Mike Komisarek. "The kid was eating candy bars and burgers late at night. Now you go to dinner with him, he's eating rice and chicken or rice and fish."

Price's well documented weight loss has also helped his on-ice quickness. And it hasn't been lost on other teammates who have noticed improvement in his physical and mental game.

"He just seems more comfortable and more focused right now," said Canadiens captain Saku Koivu. "Not just in the games but in the practice time."

"The biggest adjustment that Carey's done by far is following other guy's examples like Komisarek, Higgins and Saku," added Canadiens goaltending coach Roland Melanson. "He's taking care of himself off the ice and in the gym and he's quickly becoming a better pro."