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?