Carey Price has been even better in 2011 

March, 14, 2011

There's going to be a lot of talk about player safety over the next couple of days at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. While I imagine there will be a couple of other items on the managers' agenda, the growing issues concerning player safety will be front and center.

The league's managers, who consider themselves the caretakers of the game, aren't a group prone to knee-jerk reaction. They're usually cautious about making changes. That's understandable.

At this point in time, they seem to be under increasing pressure, however, to address the growing number of injuries, particularly head injuries. How will they react? It's hard to say. I think there is a growing movement among the group -- albeit a slow one -- toward instituting a penalty for any hit to the head. That seems to be one possibility. It'll be interesting to see if there are enough managers willing to make that leap over the next few days.

No matter what they come up with during these sunny days in Florida, their recommendations will determine what direction the league is headed. The hockey world is waiting ...

In the meantime, here's the week's edition of the Monday 10.

1. The Price Is Right

While Boston stopper Tim Thomas remains -- in my opinion -- the frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy and a legit contender in the wide open Hart Trophy race, he's being pushed hard by Canadiens rival Carey Price.

The Habs' top stopper has taken his game up a few notches in March. Since we flipped the calendar, Price is 5-1 with a 1.17 goals-against average, a .967 save percentage and a pair of shutouts. On the season, he's 33-22-6, with a 2.29 GAA, .924 SP and eight shutouts.

The fifth overall pick in 2005, the 23-year-old Price finally is meeting his lofty expectations after struggling with inconsistency in his game over the past few seasons. Last spring, he seemed to be headed out of town after losing the starting job to Jaroslav Halak, who led the team on a magical run to the Conference finals.

But GM Pierre Gauthier wasn't ready to give up on Price. In a move that was relatively unpopular at the time (last June), Gauthier dealt Halak to St. Louis. That cemented Price's status as the franchise goalie in Montreal. He responded to the organization's show of faith by putting up the best numbers of his young career.

Price's performance has been particularly impressive when you consider that he's working behind a patchwork defense that has lost some key players along the way, including top blueliner Andrei Markov.

If Price can continue his stellar play in the final weeks of the regular season, he could well be hearing his name called once or twice at the league's annual Awards' party in Las Vegas.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.