Canadiens Watch: Goalie controversy brewing?

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It’s good to have problems.

Well, it’s good to have the kind of situation some call a problem, but in truth is a blessing when you’re dealing with two goalies whose combined age barely creeps over 40.

When a team is getting great play out of two puckstoppers, the word ‘controversy’ gets thrown out faster than Carey Price’s glove hand.

Mere weeks ago, Montreal Canadiens fans feared a goalie crisis was around the corner, as GM Bob Gainey dealt No. 1 man Cristobal Huet away at the trade deadline, handing the ball to Price.

And Jaroslav Halak.

The somewhat forgotten man in the equation, Halak has proven it was no fluke when he went 10-6 down the stretch for the Canadiens last year. He has stopped 65 shots in earning two victories in two starts since Huet’s trade, including a shutout of the New York Islanders.

Price has also been right on the money, going 5-3 since the trade with two of those wins coming in head-to-head matchups with New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur.

In all, the Canadiens are 7-3 since moving Huet, but have outshot their opponents in just two of those 10 games. That tells you something about the work of the 20-year-old Price and the 22-year-old Halak.

The tendency, when two goalies are performing well, is to assume the one sitting on the bench is never very happy about it. While I’m certain both Halak and Price want the spotlight, neither has done nearly enough at the big-league level to pull any attitude when he doesn’t get the call.

Coach Guy Carbonneau is best served handing starts to the guy he feels gives his team the best chance to win on a given night.

It would take Ken Dryden or Patrick Roy stepping out of a time machine and into the crease to knock the ‘goalie of the future’ tag off Price. But Montreal doesn’t need to be concerned about dampening his long-term outlook by giving well-deserved starts to Halak right now.

Both goalies are at a point in their careers where every bit of ice time must be earned.

Judging by their play, each stopper understands that clearly.

This column also appears in the Montreal Metro newspaper.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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