Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lapierre gets what he's earned

Maybe Jacques Martin noticed what a lot of observers did during Maxim Lapierre's four-game suspension: namely, that Lapierre's absence wasn't all that noticeable.

In past years, losing Lapierre for a given period of time would definitely have changed the complexion of a game. Gone would be the guy who leaps over the boards and starts charging his way all over the ice looking for someone - anyone - in an opposing jersey to hit. His shifts appeared to give the entire team a lift, either by blocking a shot, having a sustained forecheck, or even laying a cheap shot behind the play.

But that player has been gone all season, replaced by someone far more passive and far less hungry, someone who may have felt he'd earned the right to stop working quite as hard on the ice.

Well, now he's earned a seat in the press box for tonight's big game in Buffalo, despite the fact Travis Moen is out with a torn face. Both Mathieu Darche and Tom Pyatt survived the return of Mike Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron, and it's because they know the No. 1 reason they are earning an NHL paycheque is because they work hard. Lapierre forgot that somewhere along the way.

Tonight will also mark the return of Carey Price in the Canadiens net. Personally, I thought the time to bring Price back would be tomorrow night against the Florida Panthers, but after giving it some thought I think I agree with the decision. First of all Florida is closer in the standings (eight points back) to Montreal than Buffalo (nine points up), thereby making the home half of the back-to-back slightly more important.

Price has played well against the Sabres this year, and bringing him back in an environment where he won't necessarily be booed if he allows a bad goal might not be a bad idea.

But the main reason I like the decision is this: Price deserves one more shot to prove he can play. And it's better to find out now whether or not he can. 


Anonymous said...

Like you, I agree that it's probably best to have Price play in tonight's game.

Although a 3-game losing streak could seriously derail the playoff push psychologically - so I wouldn't call this game pressure-free...

For a good discussion on the coming week:

Olivier said...

Lapierre was no great shakes at C this year; he had to drag Laraque around for some time, but still. But he never could adapt to RW. Plain and simple.

Maybe he's a fringe NHLer on the way out now that he is without the guy who was dragging him up to regular NHLer level (hint: he's in Minnesota now). Or Maybe he just need to find his way back. But whatever his true level of talent and place in the hockey excosystem is, I now firmly believe he is a much better pivot than winger.

LeMatheux said...

Price can play. He's shown it several times over the course of the season. That Halak has been better does not change that fact, it has more to do with Halak being borderline elite this year. Price could be a good enough starter for most teams. But in Montreal we do like to pick goaltenders apart... and the team is not sound enough defensively that "good enough" is good enough, they need miraculous far too often.

Arpon Basu said...

I agree, that was poorly worded on my part. Price can indeed play, but what I meant to say was whether he can play after so much time off. I think you know I've been a Price defender all year, and that I believe it would be a mistake to trade him. But Martin needs to know he can turn to him in a pinch even if he's been sitting for a couple of weeks.

LeMatheux said...

Fair enough, Arpon, and that's important to find out. Still, his first couple of games after the Olympic layoff were very strong, so that's another data point.

Darksyde said...

Some of the pressure of being the "Number 1 Goalie" is also off Price now, as well. All season it's been a back and forth flip flop of epic proportions, never giving anybody the chance to run with the Now he #1 slot seems to be squarely on Halaks shoulders, so now Carey can do what Carey does best. Play hockey. No pressure. And how lucky are we to have the luxury of playing our "backup" against a top tier team, and actually having a shot of winning? It should be a great game tonight.

Anonymous said...

Martin is not turning to Price because he is “in a pinch” in nets. His #1 goalie is 6-1-1 in his last 8 starts and has a 2.00 GA in the games he lost. Most people don’t play their #1 goalie in back to back games. He is given Halak a rest rather than giving Price a shot.

It would be much more fair to say that Martin is turning to Mike Cammalleri and Marc-Andre Bergeron because he is “in a pinch”. He needs the help on the PP.


Darksyde said...

I disagree....sort of. He's not giving Price a chance because he's in a pinch, I agree with that. But if he *really* wanted to give Halak a decent rest, he would play Halak tonight, then give him the time off until Saturday.

Anonymous said...

13 wins - 19 losses - 5 OT losses

23 wins - 11 losses - 3 OT losses

With the same team. Halak can close the deal, Price canNOT!

Patte said...

Relating the everlasting No1 goalie debate. I watched probably 60 games times season. Hence, I've seen both goalies play, many times. In Montreal, people want to win. If they don't, they HAVE to be capable of explaining WHY they couldn't win. And most often then not, they turn to the goalie. My response to them is simply; hockey is a team sport.

Look at the performance the team offered against edmonton, toronto, ottawa this past week. The team, that is, the forwards and Ds, didn't show up. (even though we ended up wining vs the oilers) Would the loses have been Price's fault if he had started those games?

I'm frustrated because Carey is amazing. The game vs the Sharks to me is a very good representation of his season. He was unreal; but lost. He can't 'pull-off'? He loses when the habs are being outplayed. And most of the games he starts, they get outplayed. Halak, sure, stops 45 shots night after night etc.. but most of his wins, the habs werent being outplayed. By outplayed, I dont mean outshot, I mean 'had control of the game'.

How many times this season did carey Price blow up a game where the Habs were in control by letting in weak goals? (Tonight's game is not one, btw.) VS how many time did Halak steal a win in a game where the Habs were being outplayed?

Selon moi, a confident Price, with a team that shows up when he's in net, makes Montreal much scarier.

Anonymous said...

The numbers speak clearly for themselves. For whatever reason, whether it being Halak

has the ability to close out a game OR that for whatever reason, the same team has more

confidence when Halak is in and plays much better for Halak. Either way when these 2

goalies have played a pretty decent and near equal sample of about 40 games and one

goalie has won 10 more games, has a save percentage of .923 as opposed to Price's .912

and a goals against average of 2.45 as opposed to Price's 2.79 - yes Halak gives Montreal

their best chance of winning any game. Halak also has 3 shutouts this year to none for


Price has always had spurts of excellent play but then allows some soft goal or can't

finish off a team late by his play. Since the Olympic break, this has happened twice now

late, in San Jose and last night and Price in goal both nights.

Anonymous said...

Re: "The game vs the Sharks to me is a very good representation of his season. He was unreal; but lost. He can't 'pull-off'? He loses when the habs are being outplayed."


He also allowed a soft goal on a Canadiens powerplay when Habs had a 1-0 lead and could have stretched it to 2-0 that night. It is those such plays that destroys the team's confidence whenever he is in, no matter how well he is playing(note- he is big and a lot of shots are shot right at him) the players still have in their minds another soft goal can happen on any shot on Price.

The numbers do not lie!

Darksyde said...

I can't believe some people are blaming Price for last nights loss. 40 save performance, and because we take penalties late in the game, it's all for naught. If we didn't take that last penalty, it's very likely that we would have had the win. I don't think Halak would have been able to pull a W out of the collapse of last night either. He played well, can't we leave it at that?

jkr said...

Last night's loss has to be , partially, the fault of the coaches. Why was AK46 & Cammalleri on the ice in the last minute trying to protect a lead? They are some of the last forwards I would have put out there.

Anonymous said...

BECAUSE again Price came up ONE save short in the final 2 minutes and also ONE save short in the shootout. Another phase - shootouts - where:

a- Halak has a far superior shootout record!

b- when Price first came up he was absolutely UNBEATABLE in shootouts - remember that game vs. the Leafs?

pmk said...

Ouch. that one hurt. Had to unwind with acouple of episodes of the office to relax. I agree with jkr - that loss is on the coaching staff. totally the wrong players on the ice at that time of the game.
I'm a halak guy myself but to blame this on price is way too simplistic and just plain dumb. He had absolutely no support in front of his net.