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article imageOp-Ed: Canadiens coach Therrien risks series loss with Dustin Tokarski

By Marcus Hondro     May 21, 2014 in Sports
Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien has been around long enough that he should know there is no road to the Stanley Cup final that includes starting Dustin Tokarski again. Tokarski was mediocre at best in Game 2 and won't get any better.
For Tokarski to start the last game in replace of the injured Carey Price was a surprise, But starting Thursday night, in New York, in Game 3, as Therrien announced today, is something more, much more. Given Tokarski managed nothing more than to stop those he should have, to let one in he surely would want back and to not come up with a huge save on either of the other two New York Ranger goals, this time his getting the start is a shock.
It's not the 70s when you can throw in a rookie Ken Dryden and win. Goaltending is more complex now, it's not simply a matter of angles and reactions, and confidence is magnified. Memorial Cups and junior titles are one thing, the NHL postseason is quite another. Tokarski isn't ready.
Without Price, Budaj, Canadiens in trouble
While Montreal played better in the 3-1 loss Monday night (any effort would have been better than the 7-2 shellacking they took in Game 1) they still didn't play with the intensity you might have expected and, beyond the first half or so of the first period, they weren't the better team. They again didn't look the team that took out the Boston Bruins in 7 and they didn't look as focused as they should have. At some level were they affected by the coach's choice of starting goaltenders?
Peter Budai doesn't have much of an NHL playoff track record (though his 6 games in the postseason are 6 more than Tokarski had) but he's a veteran goalie who has been in nearly 300 regular season games. He's played some great ones this season and his compete level is extremely high. His teammates know that and they also know how much of a support he's been to them and to Carey Price.
Somewhere in the back of the player's minds has to be the thought that one of them was not given a chance to contribute and that instead someone essentially not on their team was. Without earning it. Twice.
Without Price and without Budaj, Montreal will fall to 3-0. Once that happens it won't matter who starts Game 4, they won't be able to come all the way back. With Price they were the favorites, with Budaj they had a good chance. With Tokarski they don't.
Michel Therrien should have known better.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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