For Carey Price, the second intermission of the NHL’s 59th All-star Game was much less stressful than the first. Having put in his 20 minutes of getting shelled by the league’s greatest shooters, the Team Chara goaltender snuck back onto the ice with a cluster of his famous temporary teammates and watched Drake perform at Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place.
“I figured I won’t be able to see him in concert during the season, so I might as well do it while I can,” Price says. “I (appreciate that) as a player, being able to shoot the breeze with an international superstar. Everybody here is a fan of hockey players. And being a fan myself and being able to ask for an autograph is pretty cool.”
Drake wasn’t the only star who made an impression on (and for) Price. The Habs player also used the 2012 all-star dressing room to gather the signatures of men who otherwise would be leaving their personal mark on his jersey with snapped rubber.
Flash back to the first intermission.
“I feel like a lamb getting led to slaughter right now,” Price told the NHL Network, before he took to the ice to play the second period of the notoriously defence-free All-Star Game. “I just want to hold on for the ride and hope I don’t get lit up too much.”
At 24 years of age, Price feels lucky to have already played in three NHL All-Star Games. He knows the drill: the six goaltenders’ role is to put on their best happy face when they get beat, stand back up and get beat again.
“Everybody went in there knowing we were going to get scored on at least three times,” said Price after a game in which he faced 15 shots and was scored on, yep, three times. “These are the elite players in the world, and if you go out there thinking you’ll shut them out, you got some serious issues. The play isn’t as intense as it would be in a game, so you can’t put too much thought into this.”
And there is no danger of any of these targets getting pulled: “I think they would’ve left me in for the whole period if I had let in 10,” Price says.
Even the Boston Bruins’ Tim Thomas, who earned his fourth straight All-Star Game victory and made an impressive 18 saves in 20 minutes of work, was beat thrice in Team Chara’s 12-9 victory of Team Alfredsson.
“The pace actually picks up in the third period of an All-Star Game, which makes it easier for a goalie in a way because there’s more flow.” Thomas says. “As the game goes on, it turns into a little bit more normal hockey.”
Price first earned sacrificial-lamb status when he was named the starting goaltender of the East as a sophomore in 2009. That one was held in his home rink, the Montreal Canadiens’ Bell Centre.
“I know just about everybody in the room, so I’m more comfortable,” Price explained. One player he didn’t know prior to the weekend, however, was fellow goalie Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings. The two netminders struck up a bond.
“I didn’t really know Jimmy before, so I got to spend some time with him and got to know him as a person. I think goalies have a lot in common; it’s just about getting to know someone. The more you talk to them, the more you realize you have in common,” Price said.
In fact, it was Howard who gave Price the idea for the “blind goalie,” a technique the Vancouver native used to stop Philadelphia Flyers rookie Sean Couturier in the Skills Competition’s breakaway challenge.
The Skills Competition, during which Price spontaneously hammed it up by striking a Tebow pose mid-breakaway, was the highlight of the weekend for goaltenders. Price also wore a wire so his thoughts could be delivered direct to the television audience during the game.
“While I was out there mic’d up, I thought, I can’t believe I’m doing this. I always remember watching the guys at the All-Star Game mic’d up as a kid, and now having the opportunity to be mic’d up myself was surreal. I was just being myself. I was trying to explaining what ‘team roping’ was as I was getting scored on by Alfie,” Price says. “These opportunities don’t come very often. When I’m done playing, at the end of my career, I’m going to look back and feel blessed that I could play in these All-Star Games.”
If you’re going to get slaughtered, you might as well enjoy it.