2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Montreal Canadiens are in a bind

Published: May 19, 2014, 10:58 pm, by Angelo Stambene

On Monday it was reported that Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price will miss the rest of the conference finals with an undisclosed injury. The 26-year-old Price didn’t look sharp during Game One of the Eastern Conference finals, and when he was run into by Chris Kreider, many Canadiens fans started pulling their hair out. A healthy Price led team Canada to Olympic gold, and shut out the best Americans after stopping 31 shots. Price is the best player on the Canadiens roster, and the hope was that Price could duplicate his Olympic performance to bring Canada its first Stanley Cup since 1993. Now the Canadiens must decide whether to start former Avalanche netminder Peter Budaj, or promising 24-year-old Dustin Tokarski.

Boston Bruins center Carl Soderberg, left, collides with Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj. (The Associated Press)

Boston Bruins center Carl Soderberg, left, collides with Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj. (The Associated Press)

Budaj played six seasons with the Avalanche, and was a decent backup, but the Avs decided not to retain his services following the 2010-11 season. Budaj was signed by the Canadiens, and had one of his best statistical seasons of his career posting a .913 save percentage, and a 2.55 goals against average. This season has been a little tougher for Budaj. The 31-year-old Slovak went 10-8 in the regular season with three overtime losses and carried a .909 SV%, with 2.51 GAA.

When Budaj took over for the Price in the third period of Game One the Canadiens were down 4-1. Scoring four goals on “King” Henrik Lundqvist, in one period, is as rare as an Italian not liking pasta, or MTV playing music. Budaj promptly came out and laid an egg, allowing three goals on eight shots, and the Canadiens were eviscerated 7-2 by the New York Rangers. Budaj has seven games of NHL playoff experience and the numbers are grim, .843 SV% and a 5.13 GAA.

Dustin Tokarski has 10 regular season games of NHL experience, including three games this year with the Canadiens, going 2-0 with a .946 SV% and a 1.84 GAA. Tokarski is an unknown, but that might not be the worst thing for Montreal. During the 2011-12 AHL playoffs for the Norfolk Admirals, Tokarski went 12-2 with a .944 SV% and a 1.46 GAA, he could be a wild card, and could be the wrench in the New York engine.

Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski (35) during the third period of an NHL hockey game. (The Associated Press)

Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski (35) during the third period of an NHL hockey game. (The Associated Press)

So, if you’re in charge of the Montreal Canadiens, who do you start in net?