Sunday, March 14, 2010

The No. 1 goalie

The debate is finished.

When Jacques Martin went with Jaroslav Halak when all signs pointed to Carey Price getting the call against the Bruins Saturday night, it was a clear message who his No. 1 goalie will be going forward.

Martin wouldn't admit it afterwards when asked directly about it, but he didn't need to. It's that obvious.

He even tried to downplay the game Halak played in getting the 3-2 win and extending the Habs season-long win streak to five games, five games where Halak was the winning goalie in each one.

"Jaro wasn't really tested, but he made a big save to save the game," Martin said, referring to Halak's post-to-post masterpiece on Marco Sturm with just over four minutes to play. "That wasn't a game where the goalie won it for us, even though he played well. That was a team win."

Halak said basically the same thing, and it's true. The Bruins only had 11 shots after two periods, and not many of them were Grade A chances. But, just like he did in Thursday's 5-4 shootout win over Edmonton, Halak was big when he was needed.

And the fact he was even in goal after a mediocre performance Thursday was the real message, and it was received loud and clear by Halak.

“I was hoping to play the game," Halak said, admitting he was still surprised he got the call. "The last game wasn’t my best one, but we won the game at the end of the night. I’m very happy the coach showed me that confidence, and I didn’t let him down.”

The Habs are peaking at the right time, with the third and fourth lines again providing bonus production. Of Montreal's last 27 goals scored, 11 have been scored by members of the bottom two lines, including two from Sergei Kostitsyn on Saturday.

Dominic Moore had another two assists against Boston, giving him seven points in nine games with the Canadiens. I can't stress enough what a difference he has made in turning the Canadiens from a top-heavy team to a balanced one.

"It's been our third and fourth lines that have been making contributions," Martin said, noting the return from injury of Benoit Pouliot and Andrei Kostitsyn has also helped improve the team's depth. "Even if they don't score, they're spending a lot of time in the other team's zone."

Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist as the Habs improved to 21-9-3 when he's in the lineup. He said it was fun to be on a great winning streak, but warned that it could just as easily come crashing down over the final 12 games.

Remind me again why isn't the captain of this team?


Olivier said...

Markov has his playoff beard on. Enough said.

As for the bottom of the lineup; good matchups at home go a long way. But seeing Lucic running the fourth line over, I'm not so sure having MAB in there in Lapierre's stead is such a great idea.

But we are still a long way from that problem. The way the season is going, we may very well loose Gomez and Pleks next week.

Sliver24 said...

Can someone explain to me why Kostitsyn's sit on Markov was deemed a penalty? Lucic had just skated by the puck and poked it into the corner. He was looking back over his shoulder when Kostitsyn planted his shoulder into Lucic's chest about a half a second later.

Seemed clean to me.

Patte said...
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Patte said...

I agree with Sliver24. That was not a hit to the head with the elbow but, just like he said, shoulder to chest, half a second after the pass; a classic case of; "keep your head up, you could get killed". Andrei, didn't kill him either, he was holding back. The commentators we're way off describing the play. Don't always go by them; sometimes/often, they're just saying what will win them a few more fans..

Aside from that. I know it seems like we're going to make the playoffs, and the team may actually be healthy for once and it's exciting to think that we may be able to see what Gayney was expecting to see 82 times this season. But who would you rather play in the first round? Washington or Pittsburgh? can a healthy Habs team compete with either in the playoffs?