Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why Does Price Look So Bad When Scored Against?

I made this statement Saturday night as I watched Price let in his goals against. For some reason, Almost every time Price gets scores on, it looks like its his fault - lazy, slow on the glove, out of position ... he almost always looks to blame.

I'm not alone: other Habs fans are echoing the sentiment with everything from "He's my favorite goalie, but I've lost confidence." to "He is no longer my favourite player - let down too many times."

Update: to support this, we have the Gazette saying "Price didn't look good on any of the goals" from Saturday v. The sens, and a headline saying "Don't blame Halak for 6-2 loss" - even though Halak let in at least 2 goals the trickled right through him.

Why? Why does Price evoke such a reaction, when other goalies let in all kinds of goals, good and bad, but people don't freak out?

I've got a few thoughts. (Is why I'm writing this, duh...) Ok:

Price is not an "Athletic" goalie. That's not to say he'd fat and out of shape, no no. But Price is not the kind of goalie that roles around after every save. He doesn't dive across the net or turn himself into a pretzel - and even when he does it rarely looks good. But, as a result, when goals go in against him, he looks at fault - as opposed to more dynamic goalies who are still trying to make the save, even though its over. Because Price looks frozen, it looks like a weak goal. In reality, no amount of flopping around like a fish is gonna help.

Price looks behind him if one slips by. Connected to the above comment, if a puck does get by Price he is usually frozen, and looking over his shoulder. Other goalies will look beat - never see the puck go by them, as it were. Watch other goalies and when one slips by, they are rarely looking over their shoulder as it goes by (even if its a rifle from the point) -- they are often looking into the play. Price knows when he's beat, and is sitting there looking at the puck go by him - much more often then other goalies. For some reason, the fact Price is watching the puck go in again gives the impression he could have stopped it, but failed - when in reality, he was beat like any goalie, he just knew it before anyone else did.

The weak glove. Ever since the Philly series (2008, where it looked like he was playing with a club for a catchers hand) it is "known" that Price has a weak glove. He can make tons of windmill saves with that glove - but every time a puck hits his mitt and rolls in (sometimes off his head) fans lose confidence in Price - in "the big game" - is that glove gonna be there? More like "HA! I knew he had a weak glove!" - a little harsh for every glove side goal that goes in.

The shoulder shrugs. After a lot of goals Price's reaction is to give a little shoulder shrug - as if deflecting blame. I don't think he is, mind you. I think he's saying "oh well, no big deal, I'll get the next one..." whereas other goalies seem to have more serious or competitive reactions. Is Price's reaction giving the fans the impression he's being flippant, as opposed to taking the game seriously?

These are just perceptions! I've never met Carey price and I have never heard anything from someone who knows him confirming or denying any of this. Its just perception - but for fans, perception is everything. Halak lets in tons of terrible goals, but fans don't hold them against him. I'd say that for every starting goalie - except in Toronto.

Goals go in. They have too. Price isn't as goofy and sloppy as he looks sometimes - its his reactions which are driving our perceptions.

But, in the end, the best way to get fan confidence is to win lots of games. That's the bottom line.

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