If you are Jacques Martin...
So your No. 1 goalie is coming off a game that even he said was a miserable outing, and your team is still in search of their first home win.
With division rival Buffalo Sabres rolling into the Bell Centre Tuesday evening, should Jacques Martin stay the course and stick with Carey Price, or give Peter Budaj his first taste of playing goal for the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre?
Price's backup, Peter Budaj, is 3-1 with a 1.84 GAA and .933 SvPct in his career against the Sabres.
Had the schedule been altered slightly, and last Saturday's game against the Colorado Avalanche had been on a Tuesday, we might have seen Budaj up against his former team. Typically a coach would play the hunch and put a goalie against a former team. Martin opted to go with with Price Saturday, and we all know what happened.
Tony Marinaro thought not playing Budaj against his former team was an insult to the goaltender, tweeting,"When you play goalie vs former team he feels respected and it gives him confidence. When you don't, imagine what him & teammates are thinking." True enough, but in Montreal on a Saturday night that just doesn't happen. Marinaro should know that.
So does Martin throw a bone to his backup on Tuesday?
As impressive as his stats appear, the problem with Budaj's numbers is that they come from his playing days with the Colorado Avalanche. With the two teams meeting but once a year the Habs goalie's career numbers are staggered. On the other hand he's managed beat Ryan Miller three times in tight decisions.
Budaj's last win came in an 4-3 overtime win over Miller, where he made 37 saves. You have to go back two years to October 25, 2008 for the next win, 2-1 in a shootout. Back then Jaroslav Spacek was still a Sabre, and some guy named Joe Sakic was still with the Avalanche. March of 2007 was his first win against Buffalo, a 3-2 decision. His lone loss game in December of 2005, when he replaced David Aebischer, allowing one goal in a 6-4 Sabres win with Martin Biron in goal.
Now unlike the 18% percent or so (as of post game) that are throwing Price under the bus on HockeyInsideOut's current poll, I know that Price is just going through a rough spell and doesn't exactly have an NHL team in front of him at the moment.
And yes, he did lose three games to the Sabres last season, but had a GAA of 1.67. The team in front of him only managed three goals in those three losses so they are clearly not to be put on a goalie who's overall record is 8-5-5 (1.96/.937) against Buffalo.
Is this the time to give the Canadiens number one goalie a night off, especially facing the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday? Or does Martin run with his starter through the weekend and give the backup the Monday start against the Florida Panthers before facing two big conference rivals Philadelphia and Boston next week?
My gut goes with the former, and see what Budaj can do in the same situation (roster wise) Price is in, at the same time giving No. 31 a couple days to work out a few kinks.Price is mature enough to understand, and he certainly doesn't need to fear a goaltending controversy.
Then again I am not the coach of the Canadiens, and we all have his opinions on his decisions, don't we?