Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Morrison delivers his insights into the world of hockey, on and off the ice.
Who starts Game 5? It has to be Price
Thursday, May 1, 2008 | 12:20 PM ET
By Scott Morrison
Put simply, the Montreal Canadiens problem remains in goal.
But it isn't their goal.
Although the decision the other night to start Jaroslav Halak in goal in Game 4 was somewhat controversial, it was also the right one and it neither won nor loss the game for the Canadiens.
The same can't be said for the presence of Martin Biron in the Philadelphia Flyers goal, however. He has been the difference maker.
Tough choice ahead
But first the decision.
The minute that Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said that rookie Carey Price was "rattled" in the third game, the sense was a change had to becoming. Whether it was further fuelled by injury - and there is a suspicion Price has a sore hand, which is why has dropped some shots and not been handling the puck - is not known.
But it was apparent at that point Carbonneau was concerned about the mental state of his goaltender, thus a change was coming. Was it a desperate move? On the surface, yes. But Price was shaky and if there was a time to make a desperate move, that was it.
For his part, Halak played well enough, though the first goal appeared stoppable. But it is the fellow at the other end, Biron, who has been tremendous and a difference maker.
Put simply, the Canadiens haven't had a goaltender win them a game in this series, the Flyers have and either the Canadiens find a way to persuade a few more shots to get past Biron and find a way to inspire their inconsistent power play, or else the series will be a short one. Think about it, had the Flyers retained their lead in the first game and it would be over.
Trailing not nice
Speaking of leads, it would be advisable for the Canadiens to get one. In all four games, they have fallen behind. Three times the Flyers have led 2-0, in the third game it was 3-0. In two of those games the Canadiens have battled back to tie, but digging holes is not a formula for success.
Indeed, the Canadiens have led just once in this series - when they scored the overtime winner in Game 1 after twice erasing Flyer leads.
The question now, of course, is who starts Game 5 for the Canadiens? That is actually the easy question. Again, barring an unknown injury, it has to be Price.
He will have had three days to rest and clear his head, the series switches to the friendlier confines of Montreal and presumably the Canadiens will dig a little deeper staring down elimination for the first time in the series. Besides, the kid has a rich history of dealing with this kind of adversity, though it is not entirely proven at this level.
Canadiens missing accuracy
The tougher question is whether the Canadiens can get to Biron and suddenly become the gang that shoots straight. It is a tough time of year for the league's best offence and power play to be stymied.
And at some point, when either the series or the playoffs are over for the Canadiens, the really interesting question will be what did general manager Bob Gainey think of the coach's decision? It was Gainey, after all, who decided at the start of the year, despite what his coach thought, that Price would remain with the Canadiens, not go to the minors, and would play enough to continue his development.
And it was Gainey who traded away pending unrestricted free agent Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline, leaving his coach with two rookie goaltenders.
But it seems to matter less who is in goal for the Habs and more about who is playing well for the Flyers.
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About the Author
Scott Morrison, the recipient of the Hockey Hall of Fameís 2006 Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, has been covering hockey for 25 years. The Toronto native began his career at the Toronto Sun in 1979. After spending more than 11 years as a hockey writer and columnist at the paper, Morrison became Sports Editor in 1991 and led the section to being named one of North America's top-ten sports sections in 1999 - the first sports section in Canada to receive the AP Sports Editors North American Award. Scott, a former two-term president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, joined Rogers Sportsnet in 2001 as Managing Editor, Hockey, and is currently both a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada and a columnist for CBC.ca.
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