Montreal Canadiens Defy All Odds Behind Halak, Cular Performances

John PhenAnalyst IIIApril 27, 2010

MONTREAL- APRIL 26:  Jaroslav Halak #41 of the Montreal Canadiens makes a glove save on the puck in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 26, 2010 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Capitals 4-1 tying the series 3-3.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Throughout the tremendously entertaining first round of the NHL playoffs thus far, we have seen goalies shine and turn in great performances.

When you take the sum of all of their performances thus far as a backdrop to Monday's spectacular performance by Jaroslav Halak , there is simply no comparison. Invoking memories of great performances and goalies past, flashing Roy-like leather in several highlight reel saves, Halak was everywhere and simply shut the door.

To say he stood on his head would be an insult to his performance. The keeper for the most proud and storied franchise in Canada gobbled up almost every chance put forth by one of the most potent offenses in all of hockey in game six.

Halak turned in 53 saves on Monday night, good for fourth best effort ever in Canadiens history and setting the stage for a game seven like no other ever. If the Habs can pull off the unlikely victory, it will mark the first time in the current playoff format that a 8 seed has come back against a 3-1 deficit playing a 1 seed.

Now all eyes turn to game seven, as Halak must turn in a better performance for the Habs to pull out this incredulous victory over the Capitals.

Drama? Tension? Stuff of which fairy tales are written about? You bet it is.

Halak's saves were as great as they get, and the high flying Capitals went a big 0-6 on the power play. Despite being outshot by 32 it was Halak , and some clutch play by Michael Cammalleri that did in the Capitals.

The turning point to game six was clearly the 5-3 in the first period where Halak turned away all efforts by the Caps and added to their running tally of futility on the power play which now stands at 1 for 30 opportunities.

Scapegoats can be called by several different names. Call it Alexander Semin , call it Mike Green , call it Semyon Varlamov, and yes call it Alex Ovechkin . In game six I call it Jaroslav Halak . The Capitals with their number one power play, and explosive offense, that lost a measly 15 games in the regular season looked simply demoralized by Halak.

The Capitals are no stranger to elimination games, as its their fourth do or die game at the Verizon Center in three years under the ever entertaining Bruce Boudreau. But there's a multitude of problems for the Capitals in this series, after a questionable effort in game five, and a shaky performance by Varlamov in game six.

Its a clean slate now, and just one game remains with both teams understanding its a new game and new chance to move on to the next round. Without stating the obvious, the onus will weigh heavily on the Capitals, whose identity in their offensive prowess and talent will be questioned heading into Game Seven.

Will Halak rise up to the occasion once more?