The Habs didn’t have a very good season last year. In fact the results have been very mixed for the most storied franchise in hockey history over the past few years. In saying that, it is better to have mixed results than no results at all (I’m looking at you Toronto). But if all of those francophone fans are looking for a flaw in the Montreal Canadiens team they should not be looking between the pipes.
Carey Price led the Canadiens to the 11th least goals against in the league at 2.61. If you rank NHL teams by points you’ll see that all of the teams below Los Angeles (13th overall and the eventual Stanley Cup Champions) had higher goals against than the 29th ranked Habs. This is clearly an offensive problem (28th ranked PP, 19th in goals for). While not doing enough to garner accolades, clearly Carey is doing his job well enough to lead this team to a playoff position (2.43gaa, 91.6sv%). The numbers aren’t spectacular, but a lot of teams made it to the dance with worse *cough Bryz cough, cough*.
29 year old Peter Budaj has also enjoyed some success in Montreal. This will be the final year of the two year deal he signed with the Habs at just over $1mil per, and he’s worth every penny as a reliable number two option. While he proved outmatched as a starter in Colorado, Budaj posted the best goals against average of his career in his limited action last year (2.55). So it’s safe to say he’s one of the better back-up tenders available, and has now entrenched himself into that sort of role behind Price.
Peter Delmas has been fighting for starts in the ECHL the past two seasons and has performed admirable for the Wheeling Nailers in 61 starts (2.31gaa, 91.7sv%). He’s been even better in limited AHL action (just six starts in Hamilton), and the 2.12gaa and 92.5sv% he’s posted will get him a look for a starters role with the farm team.
The problem for Delmas is that 26 year old Cedric Desjardins of New Brunswick has been excellent in the minor professional leagues for his entire career. He’s posted great numbers with a 40-23 record in Cincinnati of the ECHL; along with an identical goals against (2.33) in 148 career AHL contests to the tune of an 80-43 record. Heck, Desjardins even dominated in two emergency starts for Tampa Bay with 2 wins on 63 saves (96.8%sv). Why isn’t someone giving this guy a chance!? Maybe he’ll challenge Budaj for a few relief appearances this season.
Since there are two goalies already challenging for the starter role in Hamilton, it’s likely either Delmas or Robert Mayer start in the East Coast League. Mayer might sound like a generic North American name (a la John Mayer), but he is in fact a product of Havirov in the Czech Republic. He’s played parts of two seasons in Hamilton, but his numbers haven’t been top-notch (2.96gaa, 90.3%sv). It seems to me that he’s been outplayed by the other minor leaguers. If he’s outplayed by Delmas again this year he’ll either take a Greyhound to Cincy or a Boeing to the KHL. My guess is the Boeing.
Habs fans should be ecstatic about their goaltending situation. They have a number 1, they have a reliable back-up, they have a few decent minor leaguers who are challenging each other, the goaltending should be solid in la Belle Provence for years to come. Now if only GM Marc Bergevin can attract some big name free agent skaters (and have Scott Gomez assassinated by the French Mafia) he'll be all set to take a run at a record 25th Stanley Cup. I give the Canadiens goaltending outlook 8 right hooks, and a straight left to the sternum.
That's an 9/10.. for those of you keeping score.. which is no one..