Listening to scouts rave about the play of Carey Price you’d think the Montreal goaltender was a six-by-four-foot slab of brick and mortar.
“I've broken down video of every goal against him,” said one. “You can't build a report on him because there is no pattern of weakness in Carey's game.”
That reverence is understandable. The Canadiens star led the NHL in wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts and is the favorite to capture the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. He's also seen as the one man who could singlehandedly carry his team to the Stanley Cup this spring.
Yet in spite of that aura, he's hardly invincible. Price was lit up for at least four goals on 11 occasions this season, or about once every six starts.
Want to be the team that makes it an even dozen? Here's how one scout says it can be done.
“We build a book on everybody. Some goalies [are vulnerable] high blocker or maybe they don’t seal off the short side or whatever. There’s a tendency you might be able to exploit. [But] that high percentage chance isn't there with Carey. He’s playing at a level of technical excellence and consistency right now that ... I mean, there are no loopholes so we focus on the basics. Get bodies in front of him, interfere with his line of sight. We want motion, to give him as much to process visually as possible.
“We want low pucks to the net [to create] tips and rebounds. You’re more likely to beat him with the second or third chance than the first. That’s true for everybody, but especially for him.
“Off the rush, you want to disguise your release. Make the positioning of [his defenseman] work for you. It’s all about the timing.
“You rarely catch him legitimately off his angle, but he’s more likely to be [overly] aggressive when you get him pushing quickly to his right. It’s still going to take a hell of a shot [to beat him far side] but’s that's about all he gives you.”