If there are two things we've learned five games into the NHL pre-season, they're that even if results don't matter, impressions do, and that impressions only last as long as the time between starts for Carey Price.
Forty-eight hours after officially declaring the Canadiens goal crease a disaster area, hockey's most fickle fans clambered back onto the bandwagon last night, presumably for a trip to the pharmacy to refill their prescription for bipolar medication. On the heels of a pair of alarmingly weak performances, Price didn't need to excel as much as he needed to not implode last night, and it was mission accomplished for the embattled goaltender, who stopped 19 of 21 shots in a 6-2 win over Florida at the Bell Center.
It had the potential to go off the rails for Price, who gave up the game's first goal on Florida's third shot - one of two Panthers goals on rebounds that either Price should have controlled or the Canadiens defence should have cleared, depending on the observer's agenda. He was otherwise solid with occasional gusts to spectacular, and that was the difference between last night and Price's first two starts. No goaltender who only makes the routine saves is going to survive any amount of time anywhere, let alone at the NHL level in a city as demanding as Montreal.
The jackals are still out there waiting and even hoping for Carey Price to fail, but for the next couple of days at least, he bought himself some peace of mind when he needed it the most.