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Halak comes back

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak get set to square off for the first time on Bell Centre ice.

When Jaroslav Halak was traded to the St. Louis Blues after a career-making performance in the 2009-10 playoffs, many fans questioned if the Canadiens had made the right decision. Almost two years later and Lars Eller, who the Habs acquired as part of the Halak trade, just turned in a four-goal performance and Carey Price has established himself as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.

Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak

“Any relationship between two goalies on the same team has to be a healthy one. It was his job to push me and mine to push him,” said Price of his time sharing the Habs goaltending duties with Halak. “He was playing well and when it comes down to it, it’s the guy who’s playing the best is going to get the start and he was excellent so he definitely deserved it. I think being able to just watch for a while and figure out what I needed to do to be successful really helped me out. I learned a lot of lessons over that time.

“He led the team to the conference finals, so fans were very attached to him – and it was well deserved,” added Price, who reclaimed his No. 1 status between the pipes last season playing a franchise-high 72 games for the Canadiens. “There’s a bit of a build up for this match-up for sure, but at the end of the day it’s the Blues versus the Canadiens and not me versus him.”

Eller who will be squaring off against his former team for the second time since being traded, picked an appropriate time to turn in the first five-point game of his career. Despite the obvious comparisons in performance between him and Halak, the Dane was quick to point out where his focus would lie Tuesday night.

“Once the game gets going, all that matters is two points. We played them last year in their building and that was fine, but me being traded here was almost a year-and-a-half ago now so it’s something I don’t give too much thought to,” said Eller, currently in his second year in the bleu-blanc-rouge. It should still be fun to play against the team I played my first NHL game with and scored my first goal with, but I’m going to approach the same way and not change anything. All that matters is the win.”

While fans are clearly paying close attention to the goaltending duel set to take place between the Blues and the Habs, the Canadiens plan to treat the game like business as usual. They'll likely need some big performances from their top lines as Halak as logges six wins and three overtime losses in his last three starts.

“I didn’t get to play with him for too long, but the time we did play together was at a really cool moment for the team,” said P.K. Subban who joined Halak and the Habs from Hamilton for the 2009-10 playoffs. “He had a huge role in that playoff run. It’ll be good too see him back in the building tonight. He’s done well lately, but Carey has been turning in good performances too. Their both amazing goaltenders and I wish him all the best – I just hope we win the game.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

Rapid fire:
-Max Pacioretty missed Monday morning practice with the flu
-Scott Gomez took his place on the line with Erik Cole and David Desharnais.
-According to head coach Randy Cunneyworth, Gomez could be ready for action later this week.

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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