Gold-medal winning Team Canada goaltender Dustin Tokarski started off the World Junior Championship by facing less-skilled teams and did not face many shots. Therefore, he wasn't teasted early.
However, the first test he face was Team USA. In that game, he looked rather shaky allowing three goals on nine shots in the first 12 minutes of play. However, his team bailed him out for his mistakes. And he finished the night allowing four goals on 27 shots. But many times, he looked shaky and required assistance from his defense to block shots.
Next, it was the semi-final matchup against the Russians. Each time Team Canada scored a goal to take the lead, they saw it erased as Tokarski let the lead slip four times. A miraculous goal by Jordon Eberle with Canada 5.4 seconds away from elimination gave a new life to the Canadians.
After a 10-minute scoreless overtime, the game was to be decided in a shootout and Dustin Tokarski had to be sharp. The first Russian shooter hit the post and Tokarski made a save on the second shooter to take the win for Canada.
Going into the final game agaisnt the powerful Swedes, the question on everyone's minds was the young goaltender's to bounce back as goaltending had to be far superior and played a key role against the Swedish attack.
Many people, from media to fans, felt unsure and there was a lack of confidence about Tokarski that surfaced in the preceding days of the final. However, Team Canada coach Pat Quinn did not look back on his decision to stick with Dustin Tokarski.
As the game started, Canada gained an early lead and Dustin Tokarski seemed strong and steady.
He was indeed spectacular throughout the game making 39 saves on 40 shots, many of them brilliant. He was specially the best penalty killer of Team Canada which was shorthanded seven times.
His performance proved that mental strength plays an important role and can change anyone's game. Many even said that he built on his performance in the shootout in order to bring his A-game and beat Sweden.
While Carey Price is sidelined by a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens made the call to backup netminder Karoslav Halak to take over the starting duties. Halak, who has always put up excellent performances which made people say he was destined to be a No.1 goaltender has gone through rough times in his past two starts.
Against the New Jersey Devils, the Slovakian netminder was beat twice on nine shots in the first period. He equally looked bad on the goals because they were weak shots should've been captured. After allowing another goal in the second period, he was pulled to make way for Marc Denis.
In his previous start against the Florida Panthers, Halak let in two goals in the first period on 14 shots. The Montreal Canadiens offense then bounced back to score four unanswered goals and limit the opposition to five shots on goal through all of the second period. In third period, the Habs saw 4-2 and then 5-3 leads erased away by the Panthers. Halak was beat three times on 12 shots and that forced the game into overtime.
The overtime was scoreless and the game went to a shootout. Halak appeared to be a transformed goaltender in the shootout making himself look big and tall and stopping all three shots. Although one player missed the net and another hit the post, Halak made one important save and ended up getting the win.
After two lacklustre performances, Montreal Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau has decided to go with Jaroslav Halak in goal tomorrow when the Habs visit Madison Square Garden for a date with the New York Rangers.
We all have seen the potential the 23 year old goalie has and he sure does not lack talent or skill. It has just been a hard two games. However, the media and fans of the Habs have been on a rage wanting him sent down to the AHL or even traded. Tomorrow would be Jaro's turn to rebound and prove that he still has winning capabilities.
Hence as a comparison, Dustin Toakrski's path through the World Juniors could be set as an example for Halak to get inspiration. We'll have to wait and see until tomorrow if the Habs' back-up goaltender answers the call and delivers what is required of him and gain back the confidence from everyone.
What do you think? Will he conquer the attacking Rangers? Would he be shaky again for a third time in a row? We'll all find out tomorrow!