Halak on the Attack

Justin Goldman

2009-02-16

Halak

 

Thank you, Carey Price, for finally wearing out Guy Carbonneau’s already paper-thin patience. Your month-long meltdown made last Friday’s game between Montreal and Colorado the most exciting scouting experience I’ve had as co-host of Avalanche PostGame (KCKK 1510 AM) this season. That’s because Montreal turned to Jaroslav Halak, which ended my year-long wait of wanting to see one of the league’s premier goalie prospects in some real-life action.
 

 

With vigorous enthusiasm and anticipation, I arrived at Pepsi Center and quickly glided into the press box, where my reserved seat was anxiously waiting. It’s the ultimate spot to scout the opposing goaltender, as it sits directly along the visiting goal line to the right of the cage. Of course I’m there to cover the Avalanche, but I’d be a downright lying fool if I didn’t fess up to the fact that I’m also scouting the goalies.

Adding to the excitement of this Friday night delight was the historical atmosphere surrounding the goaltending matchup. Colorado announced that Peter Budaj would start his 41st start of the season, making it the first time in NHL history that two Slovak goalies played in the same game. And since I know you’re wondering, there have only been two other goalies from Slovakia to play in the NHL, Rastislav Stana and Jan Lasak.

This transformed the game into something much more monumental than anyone could have imagined. In Slovakia, this was going to be beyond huge. As I continued to prepare for the game, it just so happens that my Slovakian friend Peter was also in attendance. He covers the NHL for a Slovakian newspaper and spoke proudly of the game’s importance from his country’s viewpoint. He also promised to relay some post-game thoughts from both goalies in their native tongue, since I was going to be stuck in the studio. So all my ducks were in order and the duel between Budaj and Halak was a perfect sub-plot for me to follow.

From the drop of the puck, scoring chances came at a fast and furious pace. Montreal was caught running around all night, turning it over behind their net more than a few times and giving Colorado tons of great scoring opportunities. But Halak absolutely stood on his head, enduring 35 shots in the final 40 minutes to help the Canadians defeat the Avalanche by a final score of 4-2. Even though Colorado completely dominated the entire game in every single category and aspect of the game, they failed in the one's that matter most – goalte