The Montreal Canadiens signed Carey Price to an extension through the 2025-26 season earlier this off-season, now the team is looking to make they don't overwork their star goaltender.
Price started 62 games last season in his return from a knee injury which cost him most of the 2015-16 campaign. He's started 65 or more games in the regular season three times in his 10-year career and Canadiens goaltending coach Stephen Waite has no plans to allow that number to rise to four.
"I don't believe your starter can play 65 to 70 games a year anymore. It's too tough -- physically and mentally -- and that'll catch up with you in the spring, for sure," Waite told NHL.com. "That's why a good backup can start 20, 22… even 24 games a year, and give your No. 1 goalie a break while still helping you make the playoffs. But if your backup can't stay above .500, then you're in trouble. That's why the backup has a huge job to handle."
Al Montoya, Price's backup, made 19 starts in his first year with the Canadiens last season, earning a two-year extension in the process. He posted an 8-6-4 with a 2.67 goals against average and .912 save percentage. Price's record on the year sat at 37-20-5 with a 2.23 GAA and a .923 save percentage. He posted three shutouts to Montoya's two.
"He gives us a chance to win every time he plays, and that's huge when your backup has to start an average of 20 games in today's NHL," Waite said of Montoya. "We needed him to play at least .500 hockey if we were going to make the playoffs, and that's exactly what he did. He's a very big part of our team."
Waite said the Canadiens won't save Montoya's starts for certain matchups, instead their focus will be on giving Price the right off-days.
Price has made a total of 500 starts in the NHL, posting a 270-175-55 record with a career .920 save percentage and 2.40 goals against average.