Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is it controversy time yet?

Jaroslav Halak will get a third straight start in goal tonight for the Habs as they host Christopher Higgins and the New York Rangers, and should Halak win it would be very fair to say we have a goalie controversy on our hands.

It's actually pretty similar to the one we had a few years back when rookie Carey Price eventually pushed Cristobal Huet right out of town, and now the same thing appears to be happening to him, though I doubt he'll be traded away for nothing the way Huet was.

Good for Halak, I say, and ultimately good for the Canadiens. I still see Halak as a valuable trade chip for the Habs, and the more he succeeds the higher his value gets. Price is this team's goalie moving forward, for better or for worse, and the team has some holes to fill up front. Those holes might be filled through Halak, who is proving himself (again) worthy of a starting job somewhere. Some would even say here in Montreal.

Of course, Halak and his mates will be facing a far tougher test tonight from the Rangers than they did against either Atlanta or the Islanders. The Rangers have scored a power play goal in each of their last eight games, and Marian Gaborik is proving just how talented he is when he's healthy, which is almost never. But the Rangers arrive on a two-game skid, and they're meeting a team that is starting to come together nicely. It might just be a perfect storm for the Habs.

I'm wondering how the Bell Centre crowd will welcome back Higgins. He didn't ask to be traded away, he always wore the CH with pride and gave everything he had on the ice, often times too much. But we was far from adored here because he was always seen as such an under-achiever, even though he was never projected to be more than a second-line, two-way winger.

Will he be booed every time he touches the puck? Will he be cheered if he scores a goal like Alex Kovalev was? I always liked Higgins, he truly took losing hard and was very candid in taking responsibility for his own poor play and telling it like it is when the team stunk. But as a player, he was a victim of expectations higher than his talent merited, and it wasn't all that surprising he was never able to meet them.


kyleroussel said...

I had a slightly different slant to the situation, which goes a little like this:

If the Habs want to find out where Price stands vs Halak, then no matter what happens tonight, start Price against the Islanders Monday night. My thinking is that:
1- Islanders will be in town 4 nights after their last visit, so it's a good way to compare the 2 goalies in nearly identical settings.
2- Price DOES need to play at some point.

As for Higgins, I think he'll get some cheers up front, but booed if he scores. I just hope he isn't booed all night long. He loved being a Hab because his dad was such a big fan so there's no way he deserves to be treated with any disrespect. Sure he never fulfilled his expectations (whatever they were) but he had his fair share of injuries and being used in different roles by different coaches.

FinnHab said...

I think its better to start Halak tonight simply because he has won 2 previous ones. What if Price starts tonight and Habs lose?

Rangers tonight is from different planet than the tired and not very hungry Islanders couple of nights ago.

I agree with kyleroussel, start Carey vs Islanders, dont put him into tough situation tonight.

Paul said...

There is no controversy. Price is not Brodeur or Luongo. If either of them sat out three straight starts while healthy, that would constitute a controversy. Price is not nearly as solidly established. Besides, if Halak is to be considered a trade chip, what better way than to showcase him early in the season?

If Halak starts every game next week, then a controversy would ensue. He won't. Halak has simply given Martin the luxury of allowing him to reward good results AND, owing to the scheduling quirk, return Price to action against a "softer" opponent.

pierre said...

Your second paragraph is way off the mark Arpon, our present situation in goal is nothing like the one we had when Huet was on his final contractual year with us expecting to cash on a multi years multi millions contract as an UFA at the end of it.

With two young goaltenders prospects that had shined in Hamilton the previous season ( Price won the Calder ), ( Halak had best AHL save percentage ) it was clear to our organisation that Huet's last contractual year with the CH was going to be his last year playing for the CH..... the veteran's destiny with our club was sealed before the puck had even been dropped on that season and all the while with Price's performances exceeding his own in the NHL ( 920 sp versus Huet's 908 sp ) and Halak still going strong in the AHL on that year they even gaved Gainey the added luxury of trading Huet's rights before the season hadn't even come to an end.

What is at stake now is completly irrelevant to what was at stake then.... your second paragraph, if I understood it correctly, tells me on how little you can appreciate ovbious differences and why things often seems to be controversial in your mind.

Anonymous said...

i like that halak's start has taken some of the publicity of gomez facing his former team tonight. Mara too i guess. sometimes this gets in the way of performance. maybe an unintended benefit.

TK said...

interesting how Mike Boone over at Habs inside/out used your blog title for his most recent post...