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Montreal Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens: Halak vs Price, Price Vs It All

Montreal Canadiens On December 29th 2008, the Bell Centre faithful looked down upon Carey Price as the next generation of great Montreal goaltenders. A class reserved for the Roy’s, the Dryden’s and the Plante’s of the NHL. Without blinking an eye the followers of the Canadiens forgave the shakiness witnessed that previous April & May in the second round against the Flyers. After all, the kid who’s placement on the season opening roster came with controversy and was apparently against the will of his own head coach, was surely in a position to be offered the benefit of the doubt. Here we are less than two years later and the benefit of the doubt has run dry. As I said, on December 29th of 2008, he was beloved by all. As on December 30th of that year was the night Carey went down with an injury that kept him out for several weeks. Throughout this injury, the team’s back-up goaltender Jaroslav Halak stepped in and stepped in a big way. On the shoulders of Halak, the team continued with their great season and pushed towards the top of the standings where they ultimately finished at year’s end. Finishing first in the conference was a huge accomplishment for the Habs organization that have either missed or skidded into the playoffs in recent years. For the latter part of the Habs season in 2008 and in the playoffs of that year, Price was unquestionably the number one goaltender of the team. General Manager, Bob Gainey, traded away the team’s number one goalie at the deadline for a second round draft pick for a reason; he clearly had faith that Price was ready. As the Canadiens suffered an early second round exit, grumblings began. Although throughout the 2009 season which was plagued with more inconsistencies from Carey Price, he remained the team’s number one goaltender. And throughout it all, both goalies kept their heads down; mouths shut and just kept doing their job.

This season the controversy rose to a boil. Halak’s agent via Twitter was happy to fuel the fire, although he was not alone as the media has continued to push this story each and every day. In spite of Price’s inconsistent play and Halak’s seemingly steadiness each night, Carey seemed to remain the number one goalie, even as duties were shared evenly. It wasn’t until early February of 2010 when Halak received a start after a loss, which wasn’t done all season, that it appeared he had finally toppled Carey Price as the team’s number one goaltender. Where we go from here is unknown, however it seems clear at this point that Halak is the Canadiens’ number one goaltender and Price continues to struggle in finding his place with the team.

My objection to this scenario is the double standard, as I see it. In a January game against the St. Louis Blues, Price picked up the loss in a game that had its ups and downs. Two of the goals that night were tipped in and were not going to be stopped. Another was banked in off Price that could easily be attributed to blown coverage by his defenseman. Yet each media outlet for the team immediately pointed the finger at Price as they do each game. When a shot is tipped and goes through Halak, a word is rarely said. As it shouldn’t, when a shot is tipped and goes into the net, the defenseman needs to be looked at for not clearing out the front of the net. Halak is afforded the benefit of the doubt on these as are most goalies in the league. Most! Carey Price is not a goaltender that is afforded the benefit of the doubt by almost anyone involved in the delivery of a hockey broadcast to its fans. It is a fact that Price lets in shots that he should stop, I do not deny that. However, he is a scapegoat for losses where the burden of that evening’s performance does not rest with him. Criticize him where it fits but step back and stop jumping on the kid every time a puck finds a way into the net. This controversy has been so blown out of proportion and media driven that I believe it has infiltrated its way into the Habs dressing room and likely impacts the two goaltenders we speak of. Price was put into a situation that few kids are. Initially he was great and since he has struggled. He has never been surrounded by an experienced goaltender to lean on and he was not given a chance to mature in the minors. He was catapulted into the spotlight and thrown to the wolves far too soon. His upside is incomparable to any other young goaltender in the league. It would be a huge mistake for the Canadiens to give up on this kid. I think it is a mistake to trade either goalie. Halak is a very good goaltender who will be a number one goalie in this league for years to come. Price is a guy who if matures and develops to his true potential, can be a Vezina award winner.

The Habs need to offer Price one thing that they have yet to offer this young kid, patience!

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