Believe me, I’m trying my best to keep this in perspective.
I know that the Canadiens had no right to expect anything more than a split from the first two games of their opening-round playoff matchup against the Washington Capitals; particularly with the series starting out at the Verizon Center.
But, I’m sorry. The fact that the Canadiens blew a three-goal lead with 22 minutes and 16 seconds remaining in regulation play in game two last night, just isn’t sitting very well with me right now. The fact that Jaroslav Halak allowed five goals, FIVE GOALS, through 22 minutes of hockey, isn’t sitting very well with me right now, either.
I know, I know. I’m the first guy to say: “Win as a team, lose as a team.” But I’m having a hard time swallowing my own medicine right now. Why? I don’t know. I just am. As I continue to digest my own medicine, I keep looking down the Canadiens bench, and see Carey Price’s face.
Like I said, I’m trying to keep it in perspective. But when you put it in context, the Canadiens missed out on a glorious opportunity to come back to Montreal for games three and four of this series, leading 2-0. Head coach Jacques Martin knows that. He called last night’s game “painful.” He’s not kidding. The Canadiens may have stolen home-ice advantage away from Washington heading back to the Bell Centre, but the Capitals come to town with all the swagger that you would expect from a high-octane club that erased a 4-1 deficit last night to turn this into a best-of-five series.
This was a Capitals’ team that was on the ropes last night; a dejected Capitals’ team that watched the Canadiens chase Jose Theodore after scoring two goals on their very first two shots. This was a Capitals team that looked like a beaten team after Andrei Kostitsyn had completed his hat trick to give the Habs a 4-1 lead at 17:44 of the second period.
In the end, this was a Capitals team that ended up scoring five goals in just over a period of hockey to win this game, 6-5. Like I said, I’m having a hard time looking past that. And every time I DO look past that, I see Carey Price’s face.
I know that coach Martin was okay with the goaltending he got from Halak last night, but I wasn’t. Martin said his goaltending was solid. I don’t agree.
You want your goaltender to give you a chance to win. Halak did just that in game one. He didn’t do it in game two.
Halak was spectacular in game one. He was not spectacular in game two. He did not look spectacular when John Carlson put a relatively harmless-looking shot past him from well out at 18:39 of the third period, to send last night’s game into overtime. And he did not look spectacular when Nick Backstrom completed a hat trick by drilling one through the legs of Roman Hamrlik past Halak just 31 seconds into overtime, for the winning goal.
Or, the losing goal. Depending on your perspective (there’s that word again.)
I’m not saying that Halak doesn’t deserve every minute of action he sees in post-season play. Without Halak, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, because the Canadiens would be out golfing somewhere. In fact, I”m not even suggesting that Halak shouldn’t be in goal for game three tomorrow night.
I’m just saying that perhaps a decision needs to be made about Montreal’s goaltending situation heading into game three. I’m just suggesting that any decision to go back with Halak in game three needs to be more than just a slam dunk. And right now, Jacques Martin doesn’t sound like a coach who is considering making a goaltending switch for game three.
Maybe Martin is considering it. Maybe he isn’t. I don’t know. Maybe he’s thinking about it right now, in the hours leading up to the morning skate, when he will formally announce his starting goalie for game three.
Maybe he should be considering it.