Cristobal Huet stands – in this case, kneels – his ground Saturday vs. Ottawa.
Pierre Obendrauf, Gazette
Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau has said in the past week that Cristobal Huet is his No. 1 goaltender, and he expects to give the steady veteran the final two starts of the preseason this week to get him ready for the Oct. 3 season opener in Carolina vs. the Hurricanes.
On Saturday, having played his first full game since last April 7, Huet called Price the goaltender of the future for the Canadiens. But Huet, who made 17 saves in his team’s 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, sees himself as the club’s goalie of the present, at least, and he’s sharply focused on being ready for the start of the season.
Huet missed 20 games last season, having suffered a torn hamstring on Valentine’s Day. The injury required surgery and extensive rehabilitation, and he returned to action for a period on April 5, then played the Canadiens’ final game, April 7 in Toronto.
Huet can expect to start Thursday’s home game against Boston and the Canadiens’ final preseason game on Saturday in Ottawa.
Below is a feature on the third-year Canadien that appears in Monday’s Gazette.
Cristobal Huet kicks out his right pad to make a save at the Bell Centre last Feb. 13. The following night, Huet tore his left hamstring and was sidelined for 20 games.
John Mahoney, Gazette
NO. 1 GOALTENDER HUET SETS SIGHTS ON CHALLENGES OF SEASON AHEAD
Veteran arrived in camp having trained through the summer and with the full confidence of his head coach
This training camp, directly across from Cristobal Huet beneath a blue nameplate engraved CH C. Price 31, has sat the future of Canadiens goaltending.
What tomorrow brings is anyone’s guess, especially if that anyone is a general manager named CH B. Gainey 23.
So what Huet has done the past 10 days is look not so much across the Bell Centre dressing room as in the mirror. What he’s done is prepare himself for Oct. 3 in Carolina, when he’ll face the Hurricanes to begin the season – his third with the Canadiens – as his club’s No. 1 netminder.
“It’s always been like this in Montreal,” Huet said late Saturday, all too aware that people in this town always have and always will talk about the “other” goaltender.
Price seems headed to the Hamilton Bulldogs farm as early as Monday, likely with fellow goaler Yann Danis, to get plenty of enriching ice time. That would leave the netminder in Sunday’s 4-3 Canadiens win over Boston in Halifax, Jaroslav Halak, as Huet’s backup.
“Carey’s a great goalie, and he’s definitely the future of the Montreal Canadiens,” Huet said. “I just try to do my job, that’s all that counts for me. I try not to focus on what’s on the outside.”
Huet had just played his first full game since last April 7, making 17 saves in the Canadiens’ 2-1 exhibition loss to the Ottawa Senators.
He’d liked to have had another chance at Jason Spezza’s second-period goal, fooled on a quick wrist shot from 30 feet out; he wanted a little more of Shean Donovan’s 20-foot snapper 51/2 minutes later that trickled in after having caught a piece of his right pad.
But Huet also made a number of tremendous saves, a few of them Hu-et chant-inducing wonders, notably three superb first-period saves coming in an eight-second blizzard.
“We showed some desperation overall on defence,” he said plainly. “But we did some good things. This is what exhibition games are for – to find your rhythm and have your game as ready as possible for Oct. 3.”
Huet had appeared in two earlier exhibitions, yielding three goals through roughly 65 minutes with a team-leading .909 save percentage. But a truer test would be a full game, which he was more than happy to play.
“It’s a good feeling to have a game for yourself,” he said. “The big adjustment (Saturday) was to be focused for 60 minutes.”
It didn’t help that the Senators waited 6:26, 11:43 and 6:08 into the three periods to get a puck on net.
Huet snags a Pittsburgh Penguins shot last Dec. 17.
Allen McInnis Gazette
“I knew my time was coming,” Huet said. “I think the process (of preparing for the season) is going the right way. I think it’s pretty fair where I am right now.
“There are always little details you can work on, but basically I was pretty happy, not with the result, but with the way I moved.”
Head coach Guy Carbonneau made it clear again post-game Saturday that he intends to use Huet Thursday at home against Boston and in Ottawa on Saturday, the last of the team’s eight exhibition games, to sharpen the goalie and his full regular season roster.
Last season was one of highs and lows for Huet, who played 42 games, had two shutouts and a .916 save percentage. He appeared in his first All-Star Game before crumpling on Valentine’s Day with a shredded left hamstring, the injury requiring surgery and leaving him sidelined for 20 games.
He returned for a single period on April 5 and played the season-ender two nights later in Toronto, soon afterward declining an invitation from his native France to play in the world championship.
“I wasn’t ready physically or mentally,” Huet admitted. “Even when I was injured, I was working hard to get back on the ice. So I took a good three, four weeks to really rest, then hired a trainer this summer and worked hard to be ready (for camp), to avoid injuries and be ready to play as much as I can.”
He’s headed into the second season of a two-year, $5.75-million contract, having displaced José Theodore as the team’s No. 1 goalie in 2005-06. It was Theodore who had won the Hart and Vézina trophies in his contract year of 2001-02, then broke the bank with a new pact before his game and mailing address went south.
“(Contract) is not something you can think about,” said Huet, who’s eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next July 1. “You just try to do your best all the time you’re on the ice. That doesn’t change from last year or the year before. All that matters is how you play your next game.”
For Huet, that will be Thursday, when he should suit up at the Bell Centre across from his backup, Jaroslav Halak. Both goalies won’t mind having a little more elbow room to get dressed.
For the Canadiens, the future comes in two parts:
That which Carey Price will be asked to deliver one day soon, and this season’s marathon road down which the club is about to embark, the owner of nameplate CH C. Huet 39 deservedly behind the wheel.
Cristobal Huet’s career statistics, courtesy of NHLPA.com. Click on the stats to access the site.