When Carey Price went down with an injury in October, the fanbase naturally reacted as any rational fanbase would: waving their arms like Kermit the Frog in a state of absolute panic. After all, losing Price meant losing the best hockey goalie in the world right now. In the immortal words of Boromir: "One does not simply replace Carey Price".
But that's when an unheralded rookie upstart by the name of Mike Condon decided to step up large for the Habs and went 5-2-2 with a GAA of 2.39. At the same time the rest of the team did their part to support Condon by providing him with four solidly producing lines, and scoring 3.33 goals on average per game. This allowed the Habs to weather the storm until Price came back ten games after his injury.
But then the unthinkable happened, and Price got hurt again, arguably returning too early from his prior injury. This time the team was not going to take any chances of further damage and it was announced that Carey Price would miss six weeks of action to recover from a rumoured knee injury, which thankfully didn't require any surgery.
Any other year this news would have caused Habs fandom to devolve into a uncontrollable wave of sorrow and abandonment. But because of Condon's play, the loyal masses grew confident, seeing a saviour who would pull them from the rubble and guide them safely through the stormy waters until the prodigal son could return.
But something has happened that might begin to sour our optimistic disposition. Condon's numbers are declining and the team's goal support is dwindling. Just look at the following chart that plots the three-game rolling average of Goals For and Goals Against:
The Habs are scoring two fewer goals per game under this model since Price was re-injured, whileplay is trending in such a way that his team scoring fewer than three goals will result in a loss. Granted it's a small sample size, but if this data maintains its trend, the next five weeks (the current estimate for Price's return) will be very stressful for everyone.
This begs the question that, despite the Habs' position at the top of the table, should General Manager Marc Bergevin deal for a new backup goalie and/or can the team correct their goal-scoring drought?
Ironically the latter was a self-inflicted problem when Michel Therrien decided to tear apart the lines that helped the team be successful in the first place. Arguably he shuffled the lines as a result of a drop in production, but the result was a further decline in the offence. Perhaps the return of a few injured players will allow a return to the original lines and be able to give the team a spark again.
As for a starter for the next few contests, the Habs are playing back-to-back games later this week, and more than likely both Dustin Tokarski and Condon will be given a start each, while Bergevin intently observes their performance. Marc Bergevin will have to decide soon what his next move is. The longer he waits, the worse his trading position will be, so if Bergevin believes that neither Condon or Tokarski can get the job done, something may happen sooner rather than later.