Habs Goalies, thoughts on Eastern Final:May 27
Hello folks. I wanted to post this today before tonight's Eastern Conference Game 5 showdown between the Habs and the Rangers, because regardless of tonight's final score, whether the Habs are eliminated, or whether they live to fight another day, there is one, shining, bright light that we've seen emerge over the past year or so, and that is our goaltending is looking stellar, and the future is now. Carey Price is only 27 years old, is obviously a top 5 goalie in the league, signed to a long term deal, has won 2 gold medals (and a Calder Cup, for what it's worth) and he may be back for the Stanley Cup final if the Canadiens make it there.
But we already know everything about Carey Price and we can't change that he's injured. But, like I said earlier, the future looks bright for the young goalies within the Canadiens organization (the addition of goaltending coach Stephan Waite last off season was huge for us too). Dustin Tokarski is in the spot light right now, looking phenomenal in his brief NHL post season career. My earliest memories of Dustin Tokarski are his incredible, super-human like saves in the 2009 IIHF World Juniors, leading Team Canada to it's fifth consecutive gold medal. Although Tokarski wasn't statistically great in the tournament, it's the wins that really matter when it comes down to it. A year prior to his gold medal win, Tokarski led the WHL's Spokane Chiefs to the Memorial Cup championship, including a 53 save game win against the Kitchener Rangers, earning him the tournament's best goaltender award. You may remember the 2008 Memorial cup celebration, because the Spokane Chiefs infamously broke the championship trophy during the after party on the ice.
But Tokarski isn't the only young goaltender in Montreal with elite potential. Zachary Fucale was drafted by the Habs in last year's draft in the 2nd round. Fucale also played for Team Canada in this past year's World Junior's, but unfortunately the team wasn't as successful as the 2009 version. Although his international play hasn't blossomed fully, Fucale is a championship goaltender. Along with highly regarded team mates Nathan Mackinnion and Johnathan Drouin, Fucale back stopped the Halifax Mooseheads to the 2013 Memorial cup title, downing Seth Jones' Portland Winterhawks.
I am fairly certain that Tokarski, who will likely be named the starter for tonight's game 5, will be able to help his team win. He has been great so far and I am confident in his ability, but I wish he'd stay in his crease a little more. I love the fact he plays aggressively in his crease, but his puck handling skills could improve.
I'm not gonna talk about the Prust hit. It was dirty hit. Brandon Prust is not a dirty player. I'm leaving it at that.
The Habs look like they are really exhausted. The Rangers are really just blowing our defencemen and there's nothing we can really do to stop them besides playing a better neutral zone trap. I'm not suggesting the infamous 1-3-1 strategy by any means, but coach Michel Therrien better have a plan to contain these speedy forwards or the Habs are toast. Tokarski will be great but you can't stop them all unless you have a little bit of help. The Habs' defence just haven't been getting it done. P.K Subban in particular, has looked slow on the ice and frustrated by the Ranger's penalty kill. He'll need to play with more speed (easier said than done, I know) and a little bit more passive and the Habs will win games.
The Habs forwards on the other hand really need to hit the Ranger's defenceman and wear them down. That's all they can do. The Ranger's have been running the goalies, so all I can suggest is that they run into Henrik Lundqvist's crease and try to bang some pucks past the line. Also. Lundqvist likes to play deep in his net so if they can shoot on his short side they might be able to beat him.
Here's what I would expect the Hab's lineup to look like tonight:
Thomas Vanek has played great for the Canadiens in the past since he was picked up at the Trade Deadline, but not as of late. He has looked unmotivated out there and reminds me of Alex Kovalev. A player with tremendous talent but lacks the effort. So I've been calling him "Alexei" lately and it's looking like it's going to stick until he signs with Minnesota. He looked great on the first line with DD and Patches but he's just not putting any effort in. He could also be injured, who knows with the secrecy of the NHL during the playoffs so I wouldn't be surprised if it was announced after the Habs are eventually eliminated (or after they win the cup ). So for some reason, during all of this, Therrien still plays Vanek on the power play, in over time of game 4. Did I mention the Rangers have killed off almost 30 straight power plays during these play offs, which is incredible. Vanek needs to be taken off the power play, and here's what I think it should look like:
The first unit has the most skilled players on the team, to score goals. Desharnais is an electric skater and uses his skating to open up passing lanes. He needs to be out there. Pacioretty has a great shot, has chemistry with Desharnais, and is the biggest forward in the top 6. Galchenyuk is a beast plain and simple.
Second unit, I put Dale Weise out there because he's been one of the unsung heroes of the play offs (along with Mike Weaver) and deserves a shot. You could park him right in front of King Henrik, which is usually Gallagher's job, but Weise is much bigger. Briere is of course clutch in the play offs so I want him out there and he's good on face offs. Gallagher's out there because he drives the crease and has a decent shot and great speed.
Subban stays out there most of the time. He has to stay at the point though, not much moving around and just strictly at the blue line, right in the centre of the ice. Have Markov rotate with Boullion because Gorges, Emelin and Weaver have to stay fresh at all times no matter what because they are out best defensively.
Anyways guys now I'm just blabbing, I'm done playing arm-chair coach for now. I'll hopefully be back soon for another blog.
Go Habs Go