As someone who writes for a living I'm pretty ashamed to admit that I've run out of ways to say what needs to be said after Jaroslav Halak's 3-2 shootout win in Boston.
Yes, it was Halak's win, and no one else's. If Halak could get points in the standings, I would have to imagine he'd be ahead of the rest of his team for the number of times he's single-handedly won the Habs games this year.
Jacques Martin even joked after the game that the secret is to give up a ton of shots, before giving the gathered reporters in Boston a good-natured wink. Yeah, good one coach.
He's made 90 saves in his last two games, and in his last six starts he has a .955 save percentage and a 4-1-1 record. And why does he only have a 4-1-1 mark? Because the Habs have been outshot, on average over those six games, 37-25 and only produced three goals total in the two games Halak lost.
On the season, Halak has a .930 save percentage, third in the NHL and only two-thousandths of a point behind league-leader Ryan Miller.
Why go through all these numbers for the 9,000th time this season? Good question. Because numbers are not necessary to show that Halak has come into his own as an NHL goalie, and he's currently one of the best in the league.
And this is why I still feel Bob Gainey should trade Halak at the deadline if the right deal comes along, such as an actual roster player, and perhaps even that top-6 forward he was rumoured to be seeking in return way back when. It seemed a little far-fetched then, a lot less so now.
Frankly, I wouldn't want to be facing Slovakia in the Olympics at any point the way Halak is playing, and if he can pull a Dominik Hasek and take his country farther than it deserves to go in the tournament, his trade value will be as high as it's ever been. Probably as high as it ever will be, considering the Olympics only come around once every four years.
That is when you are supposed to trade someone, when his value is at his highest. Teams usually don't do that because they want to keep their good players, but Montreal is faced with a decision to make and I don't see why Gainey would trade Price when his value is at his lowest rather than the complete opposite situation with Halak.
Speaking of trades, thank God there was all this Ilya Kovalchuk stuff going on over at the Twitter rumour market, because I would have passed out during the game otherwise. Are any of you upset Gainey didn't put together a package that would trump what Don Waddell eventually got? My buddy Marc-Antoine Godin was thinking the Canadiens definitely could have put together a more interesting package than Nicklas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier and a first-rounder, and he's right. They could have.
But should they have? I would say no because the Canadiens, with or without Kovalchuk, are not going to win the Stanley Cup this season. Perhaps, with the hot goaltending they've been getting, Kovalchuk would get them into the playoffs, and quite comfortably for that matter. But the guy has only played four playoff games in his whole life, and he has a goal and an assist to show for it. Not his fault, but a fact nonetheless. There's no way of knowing how he would react to a pressure playoff situation. The Devils are going to find out, and if Kovalchuk responds well he'll probably get someone to offer him the $11 million a year he's looking for this summer.
There's no way the Canadiens could have paid that, and rental players are supposed to go to teams with Stanley Cup aspirations. Well, I guess the Canadiens do have those, so I should re-phrase: realistic Stanley Cup aspirations. Gainey cannot seriously believe the team's he's assembled coached by the very expensive coach that he hired can win the Cup this year, so why would he lose three assets (four counting the first-rounder) for a rental?
What he should be doing is continuing to feel out his fellow GMs to see if they are interested in Halak. Gainey would be in a marvelous bargaining position because, unlike Waddell, he's not being forced into trading him. When your team has so many needs, you can't afford having a luxury item in one area of your team.
So Halak has to be traded, in my books. Gainey just better make sure he does it with a Western team, because with every passing game Halak is looking more and more like a dominant No. 1 goalie.