Canadiens’ Carey Price on upcoming season: ‘I know I can play better’

It's been that kind of season for the Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price loses the handle on this play and turns the puck over to Patrick Marleau in front of an empty net for a Toronto Maple Leafs goal.

If the Montreal Canadiens are going to sniff the playoffs in 2018-19, Carey Price is going to have to play like his old self.

Price was off his game one season ago, as were his teammates, and the Canadiens failed to qualify for the post-season for the second time in three years.

“At the end of the day, I know how I feel about my game and I know I could have played better,” Price told Kevin Woodley of NHL.com. “I always feel like that regardless, but I know I can play better than that and I know my teammates will be looking to perform better this season as well.”

Price is coming off the worst season of his 11-year NHL career, statistically speaking, and finished with a 16-26-7 record in 49 games. His .900 save percentage ranked 58th among goalies with at least 10 appearances and his 3.11 goals-against average ranked 53rd.

The 31-year-old recently participated in the fourth annual “Day with Price” camp in Summerland, B.C., where he met and worked with aspiring young goalies. The camp was hosted by Eli Wilson Goaltending and even for a keeper as decorated as Price, camps like this can provide an opportunity to improve skills and tweak inefficiencies in one’s game.

“I found I was getting too spread out, like getting your feet too far apart from each other,” Price said of a bad habit he had developed. “You are pretty much committed to the shot essentially when you do that, so that’s something we’ll be continuing to work on, keeping more of a neutral position and that will allow me to move better in any situation.”

The eight-year, $84-million contract extension Price signed in 2017 kicks in this year, which means expectations of Price will be elevated compared to previous years. The fact the Canadiens have a dearth of high-end talent on the blue line with Shea Weber out long-term only adds to the pressure Price faces.

The Canadiens won their season opener in 2017-18 but then proceeded to drop eight straight, so by mid-October the team was already behind the eight ball and seeking answers. All Price and his team can do is learn from their past mistakes.

“It felt almost like we were trying to overcorrect for things,” Price added. “You start to try too hard and do things you shouldn’t because you feel like you are helping, but at the end of the day you are hurting yourself. Sometimes less is more. … We have some new coaching staff this year, and a new defensive coach in Luke Richardson, so we’ll have to sit down at the start of training camp and iron out what we want to do.”

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