PHILADELPHIA – Jaroslav Halak got the nod over prized rookie Carey Price in the Montreal Canadiens net on Wednesday night.
The team made the announcement two hours before puck drop for the 7 p.m. ET fourth game of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The prevailing thought among observers is that Price would once again be in net despite his recent struggles. But Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau decided to go with Halak, whose last start was March 29 at Toronto. He stopped both shots he faced in the third period of Game 3 on Monday night after Price was pulled.
“I made my decision and I feel strongly about it,” Carbonneau said Wednesday morning at Wachovia Center.
“I spoke to certain people in the organization but at the end of the day it’s still my decision,” added Carbonneau. “It will be me who will be blamed one way or the other. I have to be conscious of the consequences. You have to look at all the factors when you make a decision like this. My decision is a solid one. And the reason why I made the decision is a solid one, too. I won’t have any regrets.”
The 20-year-old Price has lost four of his last six starts and given up seven goals on 35 shots in the last two games. He was pulled Monday night in Game 1 after giving up three goals on 12 shots through 40 minutes. The Flyers carried a 2-1 series lead into Wednesday night’s game.
Carbonneau informed both Price and Halak of his decision but didn’t share it with the rest of the team and certainly not the media until just before game time. Why the secrecy?
“Because if I would have announced it yesterday there would have been about 600 articles in the paper today saying I was right or I was wrong,” said Carbonneau. “Or the kid is the wrong guy. I should have done this, done that. I haven’t seen that this morning so I did my job.”
Meanwhile, veteran defenceman Patrice Brisebois was set to return after missing two games with a leg injury.
“I feel pretty good and I’m ready to go,” Brisebois said after taking part in the optional skate.