Two Sides of The Same Coin.

To me the story of the night will be the goaltending.

Price and Elliott both find themselves as young starters, with all eyes on them, but how the two got to the NHL couldn’t have been more different.

Elliott, a kid passed over for junior, then passed over for the NHL, and who backed into a US college hockey scholarship, has never been given an ounce of benefit of the doubt.  Yet still he won an NCAA championship, was a Hobey Baker nominee, and, by the skin of his teeth, and the sweat of his brow, was drafted second last over-all.

Elliott has toiled in the background, remaining dedicated to his dreams, and his belief in himself.  No glory, no fanfare, no expectation beyond that he placed upon himself.

He basically backed into the NHL as well, back filling for the given up on Gerber, and although he was having a stellar year in the AHL, nobody truly believed he would do much more then provide a moving target to the late season opposition.  But not Elliott.  He came to the rink ready to work, listen, learn and do what he has always done, prove people wrong, and win.  Tonight, inexplicably, or more accurately, unexpectedly, Elliott attempts to set a franchise record for consecutive wins by a rookie goaltender…in only his  26th NHL game.

Who knows what the future holds for this kid, but if facing long odds is his greatest challenge, he’s the man for the job.

On the other side of the coin is Price.  From a young age Price has been watched, encouraged, and anticipated.  He was WHL goaltender of the year.  He was CHL goaltender of the year.  He was selected to represent Canada in the U18’s, winning gold.  He was Calder Cup MVP.  He was NHL All rookie team.  He was named an NHL All-Star.

But has it been all too easy?  Has he, at only 21, been asked to be too much, to do too much?

He stumbled badly in his first NHL post season, after being thrust into the starter role by the elimination of his closest competitor, Huet.

He has been inconsistent in this, the Habs centennial year, and many believe it was Carbonneau’s preference for Halak over Price that ultimately cost him his coaching job, with Gainey once again clearing the decks for his 21 yr old phenom.  Stories of excessive partying, stories of poor work habits, and still nobody around him to guide him through the brightlights and media fanfare of being a young “saviour” and being compared to such greats as Roy and Dryden.

Tonight Price braces for the weight of a franchise on his shoulders, trying to avoid what will be an unmitigated disaster, should the Habs miss the post season.

Two different roads to the same location, under the spotlight of two hungry, and desperate franchises.

I can’t wait to see this one!



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