The Montreal Canadiens finally have their No. 1 goaltender in the fold, and Carey Price didn't miss a beat when asked during a conference call Thursday how many games he's hoping to play in this season. "Eighty-two," Price responded, drawing laughs from reporters. "I'd like to play a lot," he continued, "but that's going to be up to (coach) Jacques (Martin) in the end. I feel ready to play a lot of games, but I'm going to have to earn them all." One thing is for sure: Price, who received a two-year contract reportedly worth $5.5 million, is once again the undisputed top man in Montreal after playoff hero Jaroslav Halak was traded to St. Louis during the offseason. Halak had slowly but surely wrested the starting job away from Price over the past two seasons, but with Alex Auld now the backup Price shouldn't be looking over his shoulder.
"I didn't know what to expect," Price said in regards to what he thought the Canadiens might do about their young tandem. "I thought it was 50/50, I didn't know which direction team wanted to go. I knew they had to choose one direction or the other, and I'm really happy they chose me." At one point, Price as the future of the franchise seemed a foregone conclusion. The No. 5 pick in the 2005 Entry Draft, he debuted during the 2007-08 season by going 24-12-3 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. By all appearances, a star had been born.