Apr 13, 2010, 2:00 PM EDT
People often speak about how dangerous it is to give another team “bulletin board material.” If that idea holds any salt, then the already over-matched Montreal Canadiens might be in some serious trouble. Habs forward Tomas Plekanec bashed the Capitals’ goaltending in a story relayed by TSN.
“It’s not as though we are facing (Martin) Brodeur or (Ryan) Miller,” Plekanec told La Presse. “They don’t have a dominant goaltender. When you look at the goaltending matchup in this series it favours our team. I just believe that our goaltending is more solid than theirs.”
“I’m not saying their goalies are bad. I’m just saying our goalies are better.”
Seems like dangerous talk for Plekanac and the team after they limped into the playoffs with a three game losing streak and a mediocre 3-4-3 record in their last 10 games. Glass houses, Plekanec, glass houses.
TSN breaks down the two team’s goalie situations to show how the forward is both right and wrong.
While the statistics back up Plekanec’s claim, it is not as though the Habs’ goaltending has been head-and-shoulders above the Capitals this season. The Canadiens allowed 2.66 goals against a game; Washington was slightly behind them at 2.72. Montreal also held a slight advantage in terms of save percentage at 91.7% to the Caps’ 91%. Montreal registered five shutouts on the season while Capitals goaltenders blanked the opposition only three times.
That being said, it is hard to argue against the fact that likely starter Jaroslav Halak held a distinct advantage in the regular season over either Semeyon Varlamov or Jose Theodore. Halak finished fourth among all goaltenders with a superb .924 save percentage, while both Theodore and Varlamov were well back with .911 and .909 save percentages respectively. Halak was also top 10 in goals against average at 2.40 while Varlamov was 17th with a respectable 2.55, meanwhile Theodore was posted a 2.81 goals against average for 32nd in the NHL. Halak was also stellar in leading Slovakia to a final four finish at the 2010 Olympic Games.
Halak will have to play amazingly well in net for the Canadiens to have a chance to win this series. He certainly has the monetary incentive (as does Plekanec, as they’re both unrestricted free agents going into the summer). My money is that the Capitals throttle the Habs, but I doubt that smack talking will really mean much more than agitating a few fans.
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