Jaroslav Halak

 

No question this year's Cinderella has to be the Montreal Canadiens. They knocked off the President's trophy winning Washington Capitals after being down three games to one. Absolutely stunning. The road doesn't get any easier for Les Habitants who now have to face Sidney Crosby and his defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

Unbelievable, tremendous, amazing, incredible, are just some of the things being written and said about Jaroslav Halak. He has certainly come up big of late, but one thing he can't do is score goals. That's being done by what many see as a rag-tag collection of cast-offs and under-appreciated players, but let's see what we can find if we dig a little deeper.

 

 

GP

G

A

Pts

Cammalleri

10

8

5

13

Gomez

10

1

7

8

Plekanec

10

4

4

8

Gionta

10

4

3

7

A.Kostitsyn

10

3

3

6

Subban

5

1

2

3

(All statistics in article are prior to Wednesday night's games)

 

Small in stature, but not lacking in heart, Brian Gionta has one Stanley Cup to his credit and 34 points in his last 47 NHL playoff games. The one time 48 goal man (82-48-41-89 in 2005-06) is a tough little player who plays bigger than his five foot seven inch, 175 pound frame.

 

Scott Gomez has won two Stanley Cups. He had recorded 81 points in 114 NHL playoff games heading into this year. Gomez cut his teeth playing in what was a stifling New Jersey system. He knows how to bring it in the playoffs. Watching the opening face-off in Game Seven against Washington, he was really talking it up with Backstrom, obviously trying to get into the young Swede's head. Experienced and responsible defensively. That big contract is paying dividends for Montreal at the moment.

 

Travis Moen owns one Stanley Cup ring and he played a significant role in that playoff run, recording 12 points in 21 games.

 

Mike Cammalleri was a complete wild card entering the playoffs as his post-season portfolio was slim to say the least. Entering these playoffs, he had three points in only six post-season games (all last year with Calgary) and seven points in seven AHL playoff matches. That's it.

 

Tomas Plekanec has carried his resurgent regular season into the playoffs. He now has 21 points in 31 career NHL playoff games and 18 points in 27 AHL playoff contests.

 

To state the obvious, the loss of Markov is huge for Montreal. He led the team in average time on the ice in both the regular season and playoffs. Promising rookie P.K. Subban has stepped in and hasn't made any glaring mistakes defensively. He has three points in five games and is effectively replacing over two-thirds of Markov's ice time.

 

 

Avg TOI

+/-

Markov

23:46

-3

Gionta

22:39

-3

Gorges

22:32

+1

Gomez

21:18

-3

Gill

21:00

+3

Plekanec

19:58

-2

Cammalleri

19:43

-3

Subban

17:11

0

Bergeron

16:15

-11

 

For Hal Gill and Josh Gorges to be plus players after ten games against both Washington and Pittsburgh is nothing short of amazing. Conversely, Marc-Andre Bergeron is visibly struggling with his defensive play and his shortcomings have really been taken advantage of as evidenced by his league worst minus-11.

 

Some interesting team statistics:

 

Pittsburgh had the third highest ranked power play (30.8 per cent), but scored the most power play goals (12), while Montreal had the seventh ranked power play (20.5 per cent) and scored eight goals with the man advantage.

 

Montreal gets credit for the fifth best penalty kill (86.4 per cent) and has let in six power play goals against, while Pittsburgh sits second last with a 71.0 per cent kill rate, but had only allowed three more power play goals against. Montreal had been short-handed 44 times, the second most in the playoffs compared to Pittsburgh's 31 times down a man.

 

Montreal had a ridiculous amount of Blocked Shots with 228, nearly 100 more than the second highest team - Pittsburgh had 130!

 

Montreal had the worst face-off percentage in the playoffs, clicking 44.2 per cent of the time. I wouldn't put much stock into this stat, as Washington sits atop this list winning an awesome 57.1 per cent of their face-offs. There is a saying that statistics are for losers.

 

Kudos should also go out to the Montreal brain trust for letting go players who on the surface seemed like decent players, but for one reason or another were deemed not a good fit with what Montreal was attempting to put together.

 

Alexei Kovalev has a Cup ring and 98 points in 116 playoff games. Former Captain, Saku Koivu has 48 points in 54 playoff games. They identified Chris Higgins as expendable, even though he had 11 points in 22 playoff games. Alex Tanguay was an integral part of the Avs Stanley Cup win in 2000-01 with 21 points in 23 games. Robert Lang has 46 points in 91 playoff games.

 

Their replacements, at least positionally, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri, Travis Moen and Dominic Moore are all having good to great playoffs.

 

Bringing players into Montreal who have experienced playoff success and can play within the game plan orchestrated by Jacques Martin is something that has had a very positive effect on everyone in the dressing room. The only problem is that the team in the other dressing room also has experienced their share of playoff success, making back-to-back upsets very difficult for the Habs. Will the clock strike midnight on this Cinderella story or will valiant Prince Halak find the beauty that fits the glass slipper?

 

 


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Comments (11)add comment

Russ said:

The Comish
... Thanks guys.

Halak vs Price. I like a lot of what Marc writes below and don't disagree that Halak has huge value right now. I also think Price's upside is higher, many people are comparing the two as equals right now, but Price is two years younger than Halak. Price is a proven winner - World Juniors and AHL and carried home top goalie at the WJHC and AHL Playoff MVP. What has Halak won (okay, if Habs fans have their way, it could be the Conn Smythe and maybe the Stanley Cup!)?

Management has some tough decisions after the season. Keep one or both? I say value for both is very good to great. Maybe shop them both and take the highest return? Or decide that Halak is more ready now and continue to build on this season's playoff success? Interesting for sure. Cheers.
May 07, 2010
Votes: +0

Jon Villa said:

teh_n00berer
Halak or Price Trade Halak for Ovechkin. I would take no less, haha.
May 07, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

agentzero said:

agentzero
... Also, great article Russ! Here's to hoping the clock never strikes!
May 07, 2010
Votes: +0

agentzero said:

agentzero
Halak...Hasak...Hasek The more I watch him, the more this guy is putting on a performance like Hasek did in 1999. The team gets outshot and outplayed, yet they manage to win 1-goal games. Wow this is a special moment to be a Habs fan. This guy can flat out play!
May 07, 2010
Votes: +0

Marc said:

boubou
... Oilers 99, I would vote Halak as Conn Smythe winner right now and hopes in my wildest dreams he wins it but I do seriously believe Price can replicate in his style what Halak is doing these playoffs in future seasons.

Time will tell and both goalies have lots of time as Price and Halak are only 21 and 24 years old respectively
May 06, 2010
Votes: +0

Oilers rock 99 said:

Oilers rock 99
Halak or Price?? lets see..... Prime Rib or Porkchop?? I guess some like porkchops?? like you guys who still belive that Price is some un tapped tallent just waiting to bust out...? here is your chance... make a creditable arguement... not just because thats what you read Dobber has being saying this for 2 years and well??? I say you can't argue with the Results lets face it if the voting was right now for the Conn-Smythe Halak would Win it. so do you really think Price has it in him?? I think he is where he feels most comfortable ..At the end of the bench!!
May 06, 2010
Votes: -1

Marc said:

boubou
Halak or Price I agree, great article, Gainey got lots of detractors for his off season moves which are paying off!

As for Halak over Price...I am a Habs fan and will get lots of resistance on this, but the shrewd move would to trade Halak as his trade value is at his maximum!!! Halak is in a zone right now with extra confidence off the Olympics for Slovakia and is the most technically sound goalie that I have seen in a long time. Halak is better than Price today. However, tomorrow is another day. Price has a higher ceiling than Halak. Price is bigger, has quicker lateral movement, and makes saves look easy. Some say Price is a bit of a cry baby, spoiled, does not work hard in practice and rightly so with those comments. I seriously believe he is very hungry after loosing his #1 gig and is working hard in practices for when he gets his opening he will ppove what he is made of. This season, he has showed some dashes of brilliance and lots of unlucky, funny bounce type goals. He also had little goal support. I do believe Price will have a bounce back season next for the Habs or any team that gets him.

In the long wrong, the Habs will be a better team with the impact player they receive for Halak, say perhaps a Giroux or JVR plus draft picks then if they trade Price for a player with less impact as his trade value is not as high as Halak. Either way, both are great goalies, and GM Gauthier will have the toughest of decisions to make this summer of all GM's but a nice dilemma. Personnally, I would go with which will get the best player back, but in Montreal, the media might crucify him if he trades Halak.

Go Habs Go, may midnight never strike!!!
Marc

May 06, 2010
Votes: +2

Steffen said:

Steffen
...statistics are for losers. Hey! I resemble that remark!

Seriously though, great piece. I'd been attributing their success to Halak and Jacques Martin, but you're right -- the brain trust shares it.

As for Halak vs Price, we'll know sometime in June...
May 06, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Yup - Russ delivers the goods once again!
May 06, 2010
Votes: +0

CrazyD said:

CrazyD
... This was a great article. As a Montreal fan this is the first article I have seen that didn't attribute 100% of Montreal's success to Halak and Cammalleri
May 06, 2010
Votes: +0

Darryl Drover said:

droverdar
... What do you think this is going to do the the Halak/Price drama in the off-season? Does it no become inconcievable that Halak gets moved?
May 06, 2010
Votes: +0
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