Jaro the Canadiens’ best ever?

Michel Villeneuve thinks so.

The provocative host of CKAC’s afternoon drive show, Les amateurs de sports, made that claim today.

Villeneuve believes Jaro Halak’s playoff performances to date are better than anything accomplished by Georges Vézina, Bill Durnan, Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and the holiest of holies, the stingiest of stingies, the great Patrick Roy.

Villeneuve bases his assessment on how Halak has played in the five elimination games the Canadiens have faced in two rounds: three win-or-go-homes against Washington, two against Pittsburgh.

Jaro’s GAA: 1.60

Facing a average of 42 shots per do-or-die game, his save percentage is 96.2.

Those numbers are just STUPID!

Villeneuve also suggests we factor in the quality of opposition firing all those shots.

Yes, the Bruins were a powerhouse in 1971, when Dryden stoned them.

But in 1986 and 1993, St. Patrick didn’t face players as dangerous as Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, Semin, Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Gonchar and Letang – playing without a red line and under rules designed to promote offence and protect Sidney Crosby.

As to the merits of the goaltenders’ supporting casts, I’ll leave that assessment to the Commentariat.

Anyway, something to chew over on an off-day.

Puck shower by Josie Gold, the Photo Shop genius whose work graces Four Habs Fans

•  •  •

New History will be made, with Brian Gionta


  1. SeriousFan09 says:

    Anyone know what the Habs and NHL record is for straight victories in elimination games in post-season? Jaro’s won 5 so far, the maximum a team can face is 12, but I doubt any team rallied from 4 rounds of 3-1 deficits.

    Not that I want the team to face elimination again of course, just curious if Jaro’s running close to any records.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  2. HabsRadio says:

    If this continues all the way to a cup victory, there is no doubt this would rival St. Pat’s 10 straight overtime victories.  No doubt.

    We talk a lot more about it in Killing In The Name Of Gary Bettman: http://www.HabsRadio.com

    Check out http://www.HabsRadio.com for a fresh take on all things Habs. Blogs, Discussions, and of course, the Podcast!

  3. The Cat says:

    Comparisons like this are impossible to make. I seen Roy and he was VERY special. My father seen Plante and he says Plante has no equal…What I like about Jaro is the hero mentality, I can see it in his eyes (the fire) -he wants to be the hero and thats essential for a goalie I think. Thinking back to last year when the habs were getting spanked all over the place (6 straight games I think) and then Jaro came in and got peppered by Vancouver, San Jose and Colorado I think and won them all -that was something else. One thing that cant be argued is Jaros record when facing 35+ shots or 40+ shots, as well as rebounding from a loss. He has a knack for getting Ws and stopping losing skids, plus he performed for a long time with the inhumane leash of not playing anytime soon unless he was virtually perfect in his last game. Hes mentally tough and hes a nice guy, probably the best teammate of all the other goalies mentioned.

  4. VancouverHab says:

    Dear Andrew: I’m absolutely on your side on this one. In fact, it seems unarguable that players today are being better than previous generations — at the very least, their is an overwhelming burden of proof on those who claim that active NHL players are superior to previous generations. Wayne Gretzky has no peer playing today. Nor does Gordie Howe. Neither does Dickie Moore. There is no defenseman today who can lace Larry Robinson’s skates, and of course Bobby Orr goes wthout saying. I’ll stop here simply because it’s obvious that while the modal average size & weight has increased, the skill level has not followed by any means.

  5. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …well, there are a lot of tangents that You and I (and Others) can go-off-on …Are We talking about specific players, as in Jaro ? …or the average skill-level of an NHL player ?

    …if It’s Jaro, compared to George Vezina, George Hainsworth, Jacques Plante, Gump Worsley, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Hasek, and/or a Brodeur …these are subjective arguments/opinions We can go-on-and-on about ’til the cows come home …sort of like debating between whether Chopin or Brahms was the best composer …the context of equipment like You were saying, relative teams they were part-of, the concentration of their days relative talent within a 6 team, 12 team or 30 team League, etc., etc.

    …the goalie IMO was The Greatest Goalie Of All Time was Jacques Plante …it is My opinion because I am old enough to have seen Him play, and obviously I am still tickin’ to fortunately have seen today’s great goalies as well as those in between

    …I am NOT old enough to have seen George Hainsworth or George Vezina, so I am not going to be arrogant enough to tell You one way or other where They rate

    …for one magical year We thought Jose Theodore was the second-coming of at least Patrick Roy

    …no matter WHAT Era You will have players with gifts and skill-sets so far above the norm that they would be a superstar no matter when they played the game

    …with Jaro Halak, no matter how much I admire what He has done in this short-time, …until He wins the Stanley Cup …until He surpasses a tipping-point of time maintaining this exceptional level of accomplishment, it is foolish and premature to talk about comparing Him with Plante, Dryden or Roy for instance

    …BUT IF He does continue His extraordinary play, wins Lord Stanley …and is more than a One Year Wonder …then there WILL be an argument for Him being ONE of the greatest

    PS …Andy, You said:  “but most goalies thought to be elite (Brodeur, Luongo, Bryzgalov,
    Nabokov) all continually fail when it matters” …you are so far correct about Luongo, Bryzgalov, and Nabokov, …but hasn’t Brodeur won Stanley Cups ?…WHY would You include Brodeur in this group ?

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY


  6. light_n_tasty says:

    He’s got you there, Andrew.  The “you know nothing about hockey” argument is foolproof.

  7. Xtrahabsfan says:

    “If Halak wins the ConnSmythe and The Stanley Cup for us,I’ll be happy to debate this with you”….The debate is in your head and it is WHEN NOT IF! Jebus,kids today? GO HABS GO…………….

  8. FSUPhi1584 says:

    Names like Patrick Lalime, Jose Theodore, Manny Fernandez, Marty Turco, Dominik Hasek, Khabiboulin and many others names can be mentioned as dominant once, but have now faded into obscurity. The goalies that have been consistently excellent over their entire career have been few and far between. In fact only two come to mind at the moment: Brodeur and our very own Patrick Roy.

    The one goaltender that comes to mind that performed well in the playoff with the Canadiens and then disappeared is Steve Penney. Back in the 84 playoffs, he had a 2.20 GAA and 3 shutouts in 15 games. Which brings attention to the fact that Halak has yet to have a shutout, although thats a stat I could care less about. He was on the team in 86, but never got his name on the Stanley Cup due to being injured almost the entire year. He never had success after that run. It’s a very sad story. Luckily Roy was around to save the day. Back then he was being heraldd as the Next Ken Dryden (Sounds similar to Price’s situation a few years back) and he couldn’t take the hype.

    This is why I’d like for us to resign Carey Price just in case something like this happens.

  9. SeriousFan09 says:

    as I always say, the 70-game goalie is a myth. However because of the cap and depth issues with decent backup goaltenders, teams feel compelled to play their 6-million dollar man as often as possible because they’ve invested so much in that guy. Doesn’t matter if he’s burned to a crisp, they’re going to play him until the playoffs, than expect him to be even better. I think Luongo, Bryzgalov, Nabokov could win if they played in the low 60s on the year but Lu needs at least one Ace Defencemen, Bryzgalov needs to be on a team that isn’t spending the minimum on the cap and Nabokov, he’s definitely too old for 70-game seasons plain and simple and they need to lose some dead weight that wears #19. Lundqvist is another guy who gets run into the ground in NY and his team’s up **** creek thanks to Sather banking on his 80s legacy.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  10. andrewberkshire says:

    Perhaps Chris, however I believe the NHL is currently in a very large lull as far as elite goaltending goes. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s goaltenders like Roy, Brodeur, Belfour, Hasek and a couple others were modern marvels. A single generation of goalies all came close to or broke the all times Wins record. However now, who in the NHL can really be called an elite goalie? Miller perhaps, but this was his breakout year, and he’s already 30 come July. Halak has had a breakout year, but most goalies thought to be elite (Brodeur, Luongo, Bryzgalov, Nabokov) all continually fail when it matters. There’s a bunch of young goalies who may be able to live up to the past generation, but most goalies today survive because the game of hockey has become a defensive game, with fewer scoring chances and fewer talented players per team. Add to that the fact that modern goalies get to wear pads the size of my couch on their chest.

    If players today were uniformly more skilled, I think they would be able to break through and exploit goalies a lot worse than they do. There’s not as much creativity in the game today.

  11. andrewberkshire says:

    If Halak wins the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup for us, I’ll be happy to debate this with you.

    Sidenote: ironic that it was Curtis Joseph who posted those spectacular numbers in 1993, as that was Jaroslav Halak’s boyhood hero. I’m personally very glad that Halak doesn’t take after Joseph too much, because throughout his career I always felt Cujo was just good enough to lose and look good.

  12. ManApart says:

    I hear your points,  It is too early to talk about Halak’s overall perfomance and where it stands because it’s not over yet.  if Halak does go on to play like he has and wins the Conn Smyth and Cup I would very much wager that it will go down as one of the greatest if not the greatest performance of all time. I really hope we all get a chance to debate that point  sometime around mid June.

  13. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …Andy, take it from a Guy that HAS seen the different Eras …players today ARE overall More Talented skill-wise, as well as larger, healthier, stronger and faster, whether they wear yesteryears’ equipment or today’s

    …this is BECAUSE of today’s healthier diets, better personal understanding to care for their bodies, education, better training techniques and technologies to communicate them, better facilities and organizations to teach

    …smarter and healthier athletes only logically will result in better-skilled athletes

    …AND, if hockey is still around in 30-40 years, THAT generation will also be likely faster, stronger and genetically more capable of more hockey skills than today’s 

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY


  14. andrewberkshire says:

    I wonder, J, since you brought it up, how many goalies have put on fantastic performances in the playoffs, and then faded into obscurity. I know many have done so in the regular season, but usually when a goalie dominates in the playoffs, especially at a young age, it should be a sign that they’re here to stay.

  15. andrewberkshire says:

    Players today are not more skilled than before, or there would be much more scoring. They’re better conditioned and use better equipment, but there are also more teams and the talent is therefor more spread out. Goalie equipment is also radically better and MASSIVELY bigger. People always talk about how much bigger the pads and gloves have gotten, but the most substantial increase has been in the chest protector. Most goalies (Halak included) are very skinny, yet on the ice they look obese.

    As for Curtis Joseph, he only played two rounds that year. If that’s comparable, then we can say that Halak hasn’t transcended anything, since Craig Anderson put up his exact same save % against the SJ Sharks in the first round.

    As for number of scoring chances, I’m more interested in quality. Washington has tons of scoring chances in game 7, maybe as many as 30, but I was never really worried about the outcome of that game because they were mostly mediocre scoring chances, and when they got good ones, Halak was so badly in their heads from the last game that they missed the net or flubbed their chance.

    As for your last point, I agree that it’s entirely reasonable to compare Halak to some of the greatest performances in the history of the game. He’s blown my mind. But to say ‘best ever’ is still ridiculous, especially since we haven’t won the cup at this point.

  16. andrewberkshire says:

    Conditioning is better, but I don’t know if I would say the average athlete is objectively “better”

  17. J. Ambrose says:


    1) Absolutely. I have no doubts there.

    2) I only hope the training staff is very careful with him. Permanent damage is but an end-boards crash on an icing-race away. 

    3) Yes, and the coaching staff is undoubtedly working on that now. The focus against the Pens was up the middle, shutting down their centers. Now we must turn our focus to physical play along the boards, our offensive-zone entrance, and their use of the dump and chase. 

    4) Pleks shouldn’t be on that list. His play was outstanding, charged as he was with the task of shadowing Crosby. And is there a better PK forward in the game right now? AK seems to be resurrecting his play, and if that keeps up, I predict a multiple goal game. A return to form by Pouliot would be very welcome, but I highly doubt it will happen. And Metro’s shoulder is clearly not 100%. I would say the player we need to improve his play right now is Hammer. We need him to be the player he was when Markov first went down.

    5) Hockey at this point of the playoffs is all about belief/confidence. I think they passed a HUGE test in the second period of game 7 when they suddenly seemed nervous and tentative. As though they suddenly realized where they were, and weren’t sure they could maintain that against the Pens’ talent. But Jaro made a few of his patented game-savers, and their whole temper changed once again. The swagger came back, and the actually started to toy with the Pens in the third. I predict they will now play with a flow that we haven’t seen since mid-season.


  18. Xtrahabsfan says:

    Yo ,just playing with you  and in all honesty  you are a very good fan……so there….

  19. J. Ambrose says:

    Well, I grew up idolizing Dryden, and marveled at Roy (although I never liked the person behind the mask), and I must say Halak is performing as well as any goaltender I’ve ever seen with the CH. He doesn’t have Dryden’s size or Roy’s glove hand, but he tracks the puck better than either of them. Patrick was always praised for his positional excellence, but Jaro is his equal in that department. He does not have, nor will ever have, I suspect, Patrick’s almost psychotic will to humble his opponents; but Jaro has a calm control that suits his style of play very well. 

    What lies ahead for him, no one can say. Perhaps he’ll never play this well again. Or perhaps we are witnessing the infancy of a Hall of Fame career. Only Father Time can say. BUT this season’s simply remarkable record of victories in 45+ shot games, and this unexpected, outstanding playoff performance will surely go down in hockey annals as one of the best of all time. 

  20. SeriousFan09 says:

    If I was right about everything, I’d be a General Manager, but I’m not. Just a guy who likes to see talent in action and hopes that the player can live up to their potential, doesn’t always work of course.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  21. ManApart says:

    Not so sure about all this. Players today top to bottom are way more skilled than what they were. They are bigger, faster, with better equipment. It is a lot harder to stop a typical scoring chance today than it used to be. The goalies today are just miles ahead of their predecessors. It would be interesting to see the # of scoring chances from 1993 to today.

    I would also say that Halak has gone quite beyond the norm for today. His save% is way above anyones, except for Miller who has .926 in 6 games against an offensively challenged Bruin team. I would say, no goalie in the world, playing the Caps and Pens, could have come close to posting Halak’s numbers. I think he has performed way beyond what the norm would do. Taking into account his performances when everything was on the line, in elimination games, it has thus far been an all time great performance. I think he has definately transcended what his peers were/are doing in their situations, never mind playing the Caps and Pens, getting what i’m sure is the most shots per game in the league against the most dangerous shooters. In 1993 Cujo actually had a save% better than Roy’s with .938% and a GAA very close, not that I’m taking anything away from Roy in the least, but at least numbers wise, he was matched by another goalie that year. I don’t think anyone will end up matching Halak.

    It’s only 2 rounds, but taking that into account, I think it is definately reasonable to compare Halak’s performance to the all time greats. Sometimes it’s not only about the numbers, it’s about the teams, situations, big game moments etc. I go back far enough to remember 1993 very clearly (was at the Mcsorley stick measuring game). I have the 1986 Finals on tape. From what I’ve seen so far, in relation to  the awe factor, Halak is very much in the same neighborhood.

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