Ok, now what?
With adjustments and regrouping being the order of the day less than 24 hours after their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the Flyers, the Canadiens can take comfort in the fact that one player in their room has been conducting a one-man clinic on bouncing back this spring.
He may be the talk of the 2010 Playoffs, but Jaroslav Halak hasn’t gotten there without weathering his share of storms.
Ask any goalie and they’ll tell you it doesn’t get any worse than being pulled from a game: another goalie rummaging around to ready himself while you begin that long skate back to the bench. If you think that sounds bad, try doing it on the road and in Philly no less. Some goalies would need some time on a therapist's couch to recover from that kind of crushing disappointment – and then there’s Halak.
After getting yanked from Game 3 against the Capitals, Halak promptly went on to lead the Habs to their historic erasing of a 3-1 series deficit. When it then happened against the Penguins, he just soldiered on, went about his business and eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champs.
“It wasn’t one of Jaro’s best games and it clearly wasn’t a good performance for our team as a whole,” said head coach Jacques Martin “I have confidence in him and his teammates have confidence in him.”
And why wouldn’t they?
Removing Halak from the blue paint isn’t the only way to anger him; scoring on him in bunches seems to have the same effect. Of the 14 times Halak has surrendered four or more goals in 2009-10, including the playoffs, he is 11-3 the following game.
“It was tough, but it’s the playoffs. We need to take games one at a time,” said the netminder, who wasn’t his usual brick-wall self in surrendering an un-Halak-ian four goals on 14 shots in Game 1. “We just need to forget about this one and make sure we’re ready for tomorrow.”
One thing it seemed the Flyers did better than both the Caps and Pens was make life difficult for Halak. Falling just short of all-out blindfolding the Slovak netminder, they made their living screening him in the series opener.
“They tried to put a lot of bodies and big guys in front of me, and the same sort of thing happened against Washington and Pittsburgh,” shrugged Halak. “They will do the same thing again, trying to crash the net, trying to put guys in front of me so I can't see. We just need to do a better job at boxing guys out, and we should be okay.”
If Halak does what he normally does following a tough outing, the only traffic he will have to be wary of is the stampeding of fans back onto the Habs’ bandwagon.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
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