Goalies goalies goalies!

Game 13:

homer blackhawks

(I’ll be honest here, this photoshop idea directly comes from the avatar of weazel-1, a poster at the official blackhawks discussion board. I stumbled upon it looking for a pic of Huet, and I couldn’t resist redoing it)

I love this picture so much I could just end the post here. But I won’t. As I said, I got the idea while looking for a Huet picture. And I wanted a picture of Cristobal, because I wanted to aknowledge he seems to be playing much better these days. He only allowed 3 goals in his last 3 starts, getting a shutout in the meantime. Yeah, those games were against the Preds (2 times) and the Wild, who are not scoring a lot this season, but still. People were quick to bash him when he struggled earlier in the season, but no one seems to be giving him credit for his improved play.

Anyway, I admit I’m a little biased when it comes to Huuuet, so you just know I’ll defend him…

huuuet

I love this mask

Now speaking of goalies, it’s time for me to write a little bit about Price and Halak.

Price will get his first start tonight in almost two weeks. As you all know, Halak started the last 5 games. He was relieved by Carey during the last game in Pittsburgh, so it’s not really surprising to see Martin giving Price the start tonight. Of course, there has been a lot of discussion over the goalie situation over the last few days. What I’m about to say probably isn’t groundbreaking, but if you’re reading this, maybe you’re actually interested in my 2 cents.

I think the current Price/Halak tandem is not sustainable in the long run. I know it’s good for a team to have two young and talented goalies, so the habs are not in a terrible situation here. And I also think it’s good to give Price a little bit of competition, and to show Halak that he’ll get his chance. But in the long run, the Habs know they’ll have to make a choice. It pains me to say so, because I am a big fan of both of our goalies, and I’ll be sad when one leaves (it’s not a if, it’s a when. It may not be before next season, or even the one after, but one will eventually leave). The situation is a little complicated for the habs and their goalies because Price and Jaro clearly never had the same status in the organization. Price, selected 5th overall, has always been projected as the future of the franchise. Halak, on the other hand, was picked 271st. He climbed his way to a backup job, but until recently, I never had the impression the habs seriously considered him for anything else than that.

Then,the question is: should we start questioning Price’s future status as a franchise goalie, and give more of a chance to Halak? This is not an easy question. If you still believe that Price should be considered as the future of the franchise, you want to be very careful. Sure you can give him a little competition, but you have to make sure he still understands that the team is not giving up on him. And of course, this means that you will continue to be a little unfair with Jaro, who will get less starts than he deserves.

If, on the other hand, you think Jaro and Price should be given an equal chance to earn the starting role, then it’s a little tricky too. You need to give more starts to Halak. But in doing so, it’s hard not to think you’re going to mess with Price. One of the issues with Price seems to be mental. He’s very young, and he’s slowly learning what it takes to be a #1 goalie. Price had success at all the levels he played before he made it to the nhl. So it’s probably the first time he has to cope with real performance and confidence issues. And he has to do that while being under the intense scrutiny of the media and the fans in Montreal. It’s obviously going to take a few years for him to learn how to deal with that. And have you heard of a goalie hitting his prime at 22? Of course not. What I’m trying to say is that giving Price the impression you’re not so sure anymore he’s the future of the franchise is probably not going to help him. At the same time, you don’t want to give him the impression he’s already earned everything…

As for Halak, he obviously is not facing the same pressure. If he becomes a bona fide #1 goalie, he will have beaten the odds and exceeded all the expectations. If he doesn’t, he might still get a chance somewhere else in the nhl. The issue with him is that it’s difficult to assess what he’ll be in five to ten years. It’s a little risky too to keep trusting Price no matter what, at the risk of frustrating Jaro and eventually losing him, only to see him outperforming Carey in the long run.

Now, I think the situation is not problematic in the short run. The habs have two goalies capable of winning games. The challenge for the team is to manage to handle the situation smartly. It’s crucial for Gainey and the coaching staff to turn this into a learning experience for both goalies, and a situation of healthy competition and emulation. It may not be possible in the long run (it could be in one year or more), and at least one of the goalies is likely to feel increasingly frustrated. But hopefully, by then, the habs will have made their choice.

Wow, I’m sorry, that was way too long… I’m not sure I’ve really helped to clarify the goalie situation… Now if your brain is not hurting too much, tell me, what do you think of all this? :)

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