Jaroslav Halak-Carey Price: Elite Duo Emerges for Montreal Canadiens

Felix Sicard@@YeetrocityCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2009

Amidst the Montreal Canadiens' well publicized goaltending controversy, one constant seems to have arisen every time the Habs hit the ice: strong goaltending.

Jaroslav Halak has been outstanding as of late, but it should not be forgotten that Carey Price was having a strong run as well before he faltered against the New Jersey Devils and the Minnesota Wild.

It remains that the Canadiens don't actually have a clear-cut number one. However, when one of them does achieve that title, it will remain just that: a title. Both Halak and Price are number one goaltenders, so the pecking order is based on current performance.

Jacques Martin has made a point of going with the goaltender that will give him the best chance to win, and that mentality seems to have rubbed off on the young duo.

In the grand scheme of things, not only is this competition making both goalies better, but it has also made the Montreal duo one of the best in the National Hockey League.

While neither goalie sports an astonishing goals against average, they both have respectable save percentages that are above .910.

It must also be noted that the Canadiens have been the most penalized team in the league, while managing to remain in the top ten in penalty killing percentage.

This ability to fend off power play after power play can be directly traced back to Price and Halak, who's strong play has been one of the main reasons for the team's success while shorthanded.

Halak is near the top of the league in shorthanded save percentage, while Carey Price ranks lower, but his contributions are important nevertheless. Price's superb puck handling skills are a godsend on the penalty kill, as he has dumped the puck into the opposition's end on many occasions.

When a team is shorthanded, even if the oppositions' power play isn't getting many shots off, there is a lot of puck movement and the goalie must be able to follow the play.

This can lead to fatigue, so it is even more astonishing to see how Halak and Price have managed to continue to provide strong goaltending in shorthanded situations.

So where exactly do these guys rank when it comes to goaltending duos?

Surely one of the strongest in the NHL right now would be Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi, or Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavelec. Another strong duo is Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask in Boston.

A duo that has disappointed thus far in the season has been Jonas Hiller and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. While Giguere has picked up his game as of late, much more was expected from both goaltenders.

With the exception of Hedberg and Pavelec, the other two duos have the benefit of playing behind stronger defenses, and also see less time on the penalty kill. 

So were there to be an actual ranking of the league's best goaltending tandems, there is no doubt that Halak and Price would find themselves in the top ten.

Unfortunately, this pairing might not exist anymore by the end of the season, as Halak has made it clear that he wants to be play more, even if it means that he will be traded.

As for Price, more regularity in playing time might be beneficial for his confidence, as he is still in the development stages of his career.

Both Price and Halak's inner competitiveness doesn't seem to have affected their rather neutral relationship, although it'd be a stretch to say that they're buddies.

This inner competition might not exactly be what either goalie would like, but it has benefited the Canadiens to the point where they still matter in the standings, something that might change if the duo is broken up.