Carey Price boosted by strong performance in Sochi
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, February 24, 2014 3:31PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 24, 2014 4:08PM EST
BROSSARD, Que. -- Carey Price looked a little dazed at the Montreal Canadiens practice facility after returning from Canada's Olympic hockey triumph.
Price arrived with some other players on Monday morning from Sochi, Russia, where his near-flawless goaltending helped Canada to a second straight gold medal in men's hockey.
Still jet-lagged and sleepy, he didn't take part in the Canadiens' practice and will have at least two days off to recover.
He said the gold he flashed for the photographers in front of his locker room stall "still hasn't sunk in a whole lot.
"I'm sure it will over the next couple of days."
Price went to Sochi not knowing how much work he'd get in the net, but he started Canada's opening game against Norway and ended up playing five of the team's six games. Roberto Luongo got the other start and also got a shutout against Austria.
Price led Olympic goalies with a 0.59 goals-against average as Canada let in only three goals in the tournament. He posted a .971 save percentage and had two shutouts.
Now he feels the confidence gained from that performance will make him a better goalie in the NHL.
"It's satisfying, no question," the 26-year-old said. "There was a lot of doubt about the position going into the Olymics. We heard about it in August at the orientation camp. And to be able to deliver at the right time was huge."
It was unclear when he will play his first post-Olympic game. The Canadiens are back to work Wednesday against Canadian Olympic team coach Mike Babcock's Detroit Red Wings. They play at Pittsburgh on Thursday and return home Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Emotionally, it was a very trying time," said Price. "I'm just taking the next couple of days to relax and unwind. I've always been good at focusing on my immediate goals and, when I come back, I'll be ready."
Backup Peter Budaj, who played for Slovakia in Sochi, got back to Montreal on Sunday after a stop in Denver to unwind. He had a full workout and should be ready if Price can't start.
Price enjoyed his two weeks with Canada's best players. He noted how calm and confident the top players remained as Canada got through some close games while going 6-0 in the tournament.
His Olympic highlights were hanging out with other Canadian Olympians and watching the Canadian women's hockey team's victory over the United States after trailing 2-0 late in the third period of the gold medal game.
"That was a pretty cool game," said Price. "Just being a part of Team Canada -- not just hockey, but being part of a broader picture was special."