Monday, October 26, 2009

Martin makes gutsy, but correct call

Jacques Martin's announcement this morning that Jaroslav Halak will make his fourth straight start for the Habs was a tough decision to make, but the right one in my eyes.

Everyone assumed Carey Price would get an opportunity to start against the lowly Islanders to have a chance to build his confidence back so he could follow up with starts in Pittsburgh and Chicago later this week. It was an easy assumption to make, because that was the scenario which would make the most sense, seeing as Price is supposedly the team's No. 1 goalie.

But Martin has gone against the grain and called on Halak for a fourth straight game, which means Price will have been inactive for 11 days by the time the Habs suit up in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. This is what makes Martin's decision today so significant, because by starting Halak, he's essentially saying that Halak will start Wednesday as well, no matter what happens tonight at the Bell Centre.

Would it be really fair to start Price in Pittsburgh after sitting him for so long? Would that not be setting him up for failure, to suddenly go from facing Gregory Stewart in practice to Evgeni Malkin at top speed? Basically, yes, it would be ridiculously unfair.

So while logic would dictate that Price should start tonight, especially considering Halak allowed four goals in beating the Rangers on Saturday, Martin has decided to go with his gut. And I applaud him for it.

This will be the first time Halak has been given the benefit of the doubt throughout his time with Montreal, and it is a huge vote of confidence for him. I was harping about a goalie controversy when Halak got a second straight start last week, largely because a backup goalie doesn't usually get that kind of an opportunity. But now that Martin has seemingly decided he has no backup, only two potential starters, going with Halak tonight makes sense because he deserves it.

Halak essentially shut the door over the final 40 minutes of regulation against the Rangers, and he can hardly be blamed for allowing a world-class sniper like Marian Gaborik to score on a breakaway. His play allowed the Habs to collect two points, which is the ultimate definition of a starting goalie's job.

It's a job Halak is doing very well, and one he's threatening to take over permanently. Suddenly, trading him doesn't seem like such a great idea. Who in his right mind would even suggest such a ludicrous thing?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was one of those people feeling quite certain that Martin would go with Price tonight....But, now I am starting to see his logic, namely that I think Martin believes Price will benefit by competing for the role of #1, rather than being annointed #1 by decree. And the more I think about it, the more I beleive Martin is right. When Price fianlyl does get a start, he will be hungry to show what he can do, to prove that he has the goods to be #1. As the season moves on, this competition will raise both their games, and eventually Martin will, I imagine, start to ride one horse. And whoever that one horse is will have the confidence of knowing that they have earned the role. Once again Martin seems to be showing that he has learned a thing or two about coaching over the years, experience our rookie coaches of the last decade were sorely lacking.

Chris Nadeau said...

Jacques is doing the right thing. I thought he would go with Price as well against the Rangers and for sure thought he would go with Price tonight, but this is the right decision.

It's not because of Halak the Habs are winning now. It's because of Martin!

Ted said...

Hi Arpon,

I have no problem with JM starting Halak tonight and I don't agree it would be unfair to start Price vs Pittsburgh.

I'm willing to sit back and watch what happens but Price has played well against Pittsburgh and I'm all for letting the hot hand reign. Just as I wouldn't anoint Price the no.1 I wouldn't do it with Halak either.

Both goalies should be ready when they get the call, no matter the team.

Still enjoy your postings!!

Tom said...

Arp,
Halak has obviously played well, but tonight is an opportunity to see where Price is in terms of his where he deserves to be. A strong showing would only fuel the fire and they could split duties the next 2 games?!
Please mention at some point (I'm sure you will) how wonderful Mara has been recently, especially compared to a Komisarek who coincidentally enough keeps scoring goals against the Leafs. That trade off seems killer at this point.
Peace bro, keep up the great work.
Let's hope Halak doesn't falter and take a step back tonight.

Sliver24 said...

I reject the idea that it would be "unfair" to Price to start him against Pittsburgh after an 11-day layoff. The guy's supposedly an elite professional athlete with a bright future as one of the league's best goalies for the next decade-and-a-half.

Price's job is to be ready when he gets the call, regardless of when it comes or who his opponents will be. It's not asking too much to expect that of him.

When Martin Brodeur came back from injury last season do you think Brent Sutter timed his first start to coincide with an "easy" opponent? No, they would have thrown him to the wolves as soon as he was medically cleared to play, regardless of who the next opponent was. I'm confident that "fairness" was not one of the considerations.

It's time to stop handling Carey Proce with kid gloves. There's no better way to turn a person into a softie than to constantly coddle them.

Furthermore, I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Martin is simply showcasing Halak at Gainey's request. If Martin wanted Proce to play, Halak's four-goal game provides more than enough justification to make a change in nets, regardless of the game's ultimate outcome (which had more to do with Mike Cammalleri than anything else).

Trade winds could very well be blowing.

Anonymous said...

Starting Halak is a mistake. Price is still the future (and present) for the Habs. I for one, hope Halak let's in 10 goals on 12 shots.

Arpon Basu said...

Sliver,
You're not actually comparing Price this year to Brodeur last year, are you? You're point is fair and even valid, I agree that Price is overly coddled, but that comparison's outrageous at this point. Still, I think what we've been told on Price and his mental toughness was not entirely accurate, but it's normal for a young goalie like that to have confidence issues. They just need to be managed, and I don't feel like putting him up against the league's hottest team in their building after an 11-day layoff is the way to do that. Besides, if Halak pitches a shutout tonight, the point will be moot.

Sliver24 said...

I'm absolutely not directly comparing Price to Brodeur in the sense that I see them as equals. I'm simply holding Brodeur up as a model of the elite NHL goaltender Price presumably aspires to become.

Andrew Berkshire said...

So Halak deserves to start because he made 6 saves in the last 30 or so minutes of the game? That doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

Halak should have sat on the bench tonight to give Price a start, then been back in against the Penguins. Now if Halak doesn't play well tonight it's a lose/lose situation in goal just in time to face the Penguins and Blackhawks. Terrible decision by Martin.

Super-Youppi said...

I too am a bit surprised that The Franchise did not get the nod tonight. Surprised, but not upset.

So, it is interesting to hear some of you chime in with your anger over JM's decision to play Halak. With three straight wins under his belt, I guess you could ask why would Jaro NOT get the start? I'm a Price supporter too, but I wasn't second guessing the choice to play Jaro after Cammy's OT shot on Saturday.

Which makes the Anonymous comment (above at 1:47pm) that much more perplexing. Are you a Habs fan, or a Price fan? Price may be the future, but I will take the 2 points right now.

Both goalies are playing relatively solid so far this year. So, the current goalie "controversy" is not a bad problem to have.

Anonymous said...

i think the habs are taking an approach a long time missing here; earning your playing time. it also helps price in a way. they are slowly removing pressure from his shoulders. many people calling him "the franchise" will start to fade and maybe we'll see him coming back into his own.
i loved seeing price laughing at mcguire the other night on tsn as he poured on the hype. he looks loose and relaxed as opposed to the end of last season.

pierre said...

" Its not because of Halak that the CH are winning right now. Its because of Martin ".
Chris Nadeau

In my book, a deeply rebuilt team like the CH should be required a minimum of 15 games to be going at a level representative to the quality of its roster but with the CH, (despite being deprived of Marcov) playing their first set of 10 at 500 while outshouting their opposition in the last 6, it seem safe to say at this point that this process has been hastenned by the extreme competence of Martin and that he is a hell of a coach.

With the first hurdle behind us we are now moving forward with the secondary scoring defficiency I expected our made-up team to have last summer as our only true weak spot.

Kudos to Gainey for hiring Martin and getting us some exciting and quality players this summer..... and kudos for the hiring of Bergeron which make the devastating loss of Marcov not as bad as it could have been.

pierre said...

" Its not because of Halak that the CH are winning right now. Its because of Martin ".
Chris Nadeau

In my book, a deeply rebuilt team like the CH should be required a minimum of 15 games to be going at a level representative to the quality of its roster but with the CH, (despite being deprived of Marcov) playing their first set of 10 at 500 while outshouting their opposition in the last 6, it seem safe to say at this point that this process has been hastenned by the extreme competence of Martin and that he is a hell of a coach.

With the first hurdle behind us we are now moving forward with the secondary scoring defficiency I expected our made-up team to have last summer as our only true weak spot.

Kudos to Gainey for hiring Martin and getting us some exciting and quality players this summer..... and kudos for the hiring of Bergeron which make the devastating loss of Marcov not as bad as it could have been.

Anonymous said...

Moyes, the owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, got the shaft by the NHL today and I think it will have major repercussions throughout the league.

I wonder how the bottom dozen teams in terms of revenue feel about their payroll, whether they should cut or trade some of their expensive help. I am looking for lots of strange trades over the next 12 months at least as thing find an equilibrium. Not good for parity but should be good for the teams with deep pockets.