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About Last Night: Even in defeat, the Canadiens aren't 'worried' about Carey Price – Montreal Gazette

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Habs star goalie believes he may be “overthinking” things

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Dominique Ducharme was given the keys to the Canadiens this week on an interim basis. He is now the bench boss of a team that is badly in need of some good fortune and having nothing but during the first month of the year.

While there are some more minute details (faceoffs, zone entries) that need attention as well, there is already one massive dilemma he will need to navigate. His star goaltender isn’t playing like the elite star he was once heralded as.

Price hasn’t been good enough. He’s had starts where he’s been downright unreliable this season. Yours truly thought he might have turned a corner after defeating the Maple Leafs prior to his team’s week-long break, completely downplaying the idea of a goaltending controversy.

Since then, Price is 0-2-1 with a save percentage of .853 and 14 goals allowed. He’s allowed five goals in two of his last three starts.

Just like Claude Julien before him, he hasn’t turned that corner.

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“I just think, maybe, I’m overthinking things. That’s all I got for you,” Price said after a 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets last night.

It happens. Even to a goalie who makes over ten million dollars per season. But in a shortened season where the Canadiens need to make the playoffs, Price’s margin for error is thinner than usual. The Canadiens might still be among the four best teams in the North Division, but if Price can’t keep his team in games, would it be a surprise to see the Canadiens use Jake Allen more often than not going forward?

The Canadiens are at that point yet.

Ducharme thought Price played “like the team” did Thursday night. In an earlier answer, Ducharme said his squad “cracked mentally and physically” in the second half of the game. But Ducharme did his best to put as much as he could on the team and not on one singular player. And he seemed hopeful that Price could still turn his sub-par season around.

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“Like we do with all our players, we’re going to look at every possibility and we want our guys to be playing their best and find solutions for every one of them. From the forwards to the (defence) to the goalies. So we’ll find a solution.

“Carey’s a competitor. I’m not worried.”

You certainly won’t hear Canadiens players put the blame on Price. And it’s fair to say that the players could share some of that blame too.

I think back to a Brendan Gallagher quote from Tuesday night’s loss to the Ottawa Senators where Price made some outstanding saves but also allowed some bad goals against the Senators.

“He made so many big saves. Pucks are going to go in sometimes. He made save, after save, after save. We don’t have a chance if not for Price. There’s no concern there.”

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Now, hold that quote up side-by-side with Jonathan Drouin’s own from Thursday night. He was asked if his team’s dip in performance in front of Price had more to do with the team, or if it was because Price wasn’t playing like the Price many people have come to expect.

“I think it’s both,” Drouin said. “It’s true that Carey hasn’t been at this best. But I think we haven’t been either. If you see the goals (he allows), they’re off of tic-tac-toe or backdoor plays. I don’t know many goalies who are going to stop those. He saved us against Ottawa two, three times with his stick, with some spectacular saves.

“But that’s on us too to not give up so many grade-A chances. We could have him just make easier saves and take easier shots where he sees the puck, there are no rebounds, the defencemen are doing their job, forwards come back to the crease to help Carey.”

The coaches and players are throwing support behind their number one goalie, even if the statistics don’t support his case of being a number one goalie, let alone elite.

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If that’s the road they wish to go down, then the Canadiens will need to do everything they can to restore Price’s confidence.

It might actually be Ducharme’s most important task aside from making the playoffs.

The best of last night’s Liveblog

It’s where you can find all the varying opinions on Carey Price.

About one quarter of the posts here tonight are laying this on Carey Price. That’s 50-50 to me… Yes, his skills are diminishing. Turning 34 in August is the logical explanation. But the team in front of him is also of diminished skill. The beef against CP is the quality of recent play. OK. But give the guy credit for his resumé in MTL. The real beef is the contract. And you CAN’T blame CP for that! — Rudi Hittisau

Price is finished. I did not think he could let in a worse goal than Tkachuk’s 2nd goal last game but the Jets 4th goal by Thompson was complete and UTTER Garbage. Nate just shoveled it at the net and it ate Price up like it was a 100 mph Bobby Hull slapshot. I mean what the hell was he doin on that. That was the game right there. That goal completely deflated the tires. When, and I will repeat myself, WHEN is the management group going to wake up and see this guy Price is a head case. That was utterly terrible. When Petry makes an egregious error and gives the puck away that was bad, but c’mon Price swallow the shot and don’t give up a nice juicy rebound. Boom goal #5. That is not NHL caliber goal tending by anyone’s measuring stick. I can’t watch this guy anymore. Play Allen every game for the rest of the season and put Price on waivers and see if anyone is stupid enough to take him. They said the team quit on Julien. When is someone going to write that Price has quit on his team. — Mac Alexander

Price is finished. Seriously. I’ve stood behind him for years but no more. Cut a deal with Seattle. Leave him unprotected. He and Angela live near family and we eat half the salary which still should buy a decent UFA. He looks like he doesn’t care anymore. Body language speaks volumes. If I see it you know every player sees it. it’s time. Sit him. Allen #1. Primeau back up. Price plays only once we’re mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. I can’t believe I’m saying that 1/4 into the season but that’s how I feel. Oh yeah. I’ll be watching Saturday because I love hockey. — Habs SkiFan

I remember a time when the Canadiens scoring 3 goals with Price in nets was almost a guaranteed win, I just can’t recall when that time was — Ryan Katz

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Djokovic outlasts Sonego to set up Rome final with Nadal

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Defending champion Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal will clash for the Italian Open title after the top two seeds advanced to the final of the Masters tournament on Saturday.

Djokovic, who beat Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6 7-5 7-5 in a rain-delayed quarter-final earlier in the day, was also stretched to three sets in the semi-final before overcoming local favourite Lorenzo Sonego.

Sonego, the first Italian to make the semi-finals in Rome in 14 years after he beat world number seven Andrey Rublev earlier on Saturday, had his dream run ended by Djokovic who triumphed 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2.

Djokovic failed to convert two match points in the second set that lasted 91 minutes as Sonego forced a tiebreak, where the Serb lost a 4-2 lead.

However, the world number one controlled proceedings in the decider and advanced after Sonego’s return on match point found the net.

Earlier, Nadal beat Reilly Opelka 6-4 6-4 to move into the final in Rome for the 12th time.

The match was Nadal’s 500th on clay where he has a formidable 458-42 record and the Spaniard advanced after twice breaking the big-serving American.

“When you play these kind of matches, you know it’s not going to be a beautiful match… you’re not going to find rhythm in the match. You’re going to have just a few chances to break,” Nadal told reporters.

“It’s important not to suffer much with your serve because if you are… you feel the stress all the time. So the positive thing today, I just faced break points in one game during the whole match.”

Djokovic was trailing Tsitsipas 6-4 2-1 when Friday’s quarter-final was halted by rain but the Serb raised his game at key moments to twice come back from a break down in the deciding set.

Djokovic has a 29-27 career record against Nadal but the Spaniard has won five of their eight matches in Rome.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Sudipto Ganguly in Berhampore, India; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ed Osmond)

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New York Rangers get OK to interview Gerard Gallant for coaching job

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The New York Rangers plan to interview Gerard Gallant for their head coaching job, TSN reported.

The Vegas Golden Knights, who fired Gallant during the 2019-20 season, reportedly have granted permission.

A first conversation between the Rangers and Gallant was expected to take place quickly, before Gallant heads to Latvia to coach Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship, which runs from May 21-June 6.

Gallant, 57, was the first coach of the expansion Golden Knights and led them to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2017-18. The Washington Capitals won in five games.

He was fired 49 games into his third season when the team was 24-19-6, and he had an overall record of 118-75-20 with Vegas.

He also coached the Columbus Blue Jackets (2003-07) and Florida Panthers (2014-17) and has a career record of 270-216-4-51 in 541 career games as a head coach.

The Rangers are in the midst of an overhaul. They fired head coach David Quinn and three assistant coaches on Wednesday, following the dismissal last week of team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton.

The Rangers failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth straight season after posting a 27-23-6 record in 2020-21. They finished in fifth place in the East Division.

Quinn, 54, compiled a 96-87-25 record during his three seasons as coach of the Rangers after taking over for Alain Vigneault on May 23, 2018.

–Field Level Media

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NHL wants answer on Canada border crossing soon

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The NHL has asked the Canadian government for a decision by June 1 about U.S. teams crossing the border during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, ESPN reported Friday.

 

The Canadian teams played only each other during the 2020-21 season in a revamped North Division because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that will continue during the first two rounds of the playoffs. It’s what happens after that — in the semifinals and finals — that is up in the air.

 

“The conversations are ongoing. We’ve told them we really do need to know by the end of the first round, and that’s around June 1,” Steve Mayer, the league’s chief content officer, told ESPN. “That’s pretty much the date that we’ve talked to them about, saying we have to know one way or another.”

 

Last season, the playoffs were held in bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto.

 

Under current rules, American-based teams couldn’t play in Canada without mandatory quarantines, which would make travel for home-and-away games impossible under the playoff calendar.

 

The NHL and government representatives last talked a week ago, and the Canadian officials submitted a variety of questions for the league’s response.

 

In the interim, Mayer said, the league has discussed the possibility of the Canadian team that advances from the North Division being based in the U.S. for the duration of the postseason. Talks have occurred with officials at NHL arenas where teams didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

 

An NHL source told ESPN this week that the league expects “a positive resolution” to the issue, however.

 

–Field Level Media

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