Saturday, July 12, 2008

Habs Review 2007-08:

Cristobal Huet

The numbers

2007-08 - Canadiens/Capitals
39 GP: 21 W, 12 L, 6 OTL, 2.55 GAA, .916 Save %, 2 SO - Canadiens
13 GP: 11 W, 2 L, 0 OTL, 1.63 GAA, .936 Save %, 2 SO - Capitals

52 GP: 32 W, 14 L, 6 OTL, 2.32 GAA, .920 Save %, 4 SO - TOTAL

Career best year
This season

2007-08 playoffs - Capitals
7 GP: 3 W, 4 L, 2.93 GAA, .909 Save %, 0 SO

Career best playoffs – 2005-06
6 GP: 2 W, 4 L, 2.33 GAA, .929 Save %, 0 SO

Plays of the game: 5

Game pucks: 10

Domes: 37

3 Star selections: 6 First, 3 Second, 1 Third

The story

Where he started the season
Cristo was our #1 goalie going into this year, no question. We had gotten rid of Aebischer, so it was Huet and one of our two star youngsters, but no one knew who that would be. The combination of an experienced, extremely talented veteran with the raw talent of either Halak or Price appealed to all Habs fans who hadn't see such a tandem since Hackett/Theodore. Huet's all-star performance was enough to force a former Hart winner out of town, so could he do it again? The question on everybody's mind in training camp was could Huet (in a contract year) be good enough to convince the Habs that he was our goaltender of the future. He had a shot, but a lot believed it was only a matter of time before Carey Price would become our long-term #1.

The season
Huet started the year very well, as he only lost one of his first eight games in regulation. Throughout the start of the season, he was playing more than Price, but as early as mid-November it seemed like we were going to more of a platoon style system. The wins, however, kept coming for Huet. From late Novemeber until early February he enjoyed a great stretch in which he went 14-4-4. One of his most memorable moments as a Hab came in a shootout win over the Rangers. Price was shelled for 3 early goals leaving Carbo with no other choice than to bring in the Frenchman. What happened after that will be remembered for a very long time. After letting in 2 goals himself Huet would go on to backstop the Habs to an improbable 6-5 come from behind win in a game in which we trailed 5-0 halfway through. That game would turn out to be Huet's second last as a Hab as he was traded at the deadline a few days later.

The trade itself was mostly remarkable for what the Canadiens managed to get in return - a mere second round pick in 2009. For Huet, however, the move was great, as it allowed him to showcase his abilities again. He had a great month with Washington and only succumbed to Briere and the Flyers in a seventh game on a questionable goal.

Highlights: Not available on the official site (since he never existed...), but this should suffice

Huet by the numbers: N/A

Lions' links on Huet:
To Trade Huet?
Emery, Miller, Toskala, Fernandez and Huet
Does three goalies constitute depth?
The Underappreciated Cristobal Huet (Stats Suite)
Here We Go Again
The Trade Deadline and What's Next
Out of Africa: Digesting Habs Occurrences from Late February
Experts Share More Wisdom
From Souray to Huet: A Year of Gainey

Grade: A
We ended the year in 1st place in the conference in large part due to the play of Cristo. Many over the years had noted that he didn't have the stamina to be a #1, but I think his 32 wins (21 with us and 11 in just 13 games with Washington) is proof enough that he does. Trading Huet is still something that I haven't been able to accept. Not making him the goalie of the future is understandable, but trading an all-star for a 2nd round pick is just pathetic. What's more, we all understand the economics of hockey and that the Canadiens would not have been able to resign Huet at the salary he was seeking (and got with the Hawks) as well as play Price in the majority of games. But, many fans would wonder aloud, if it wouldn't have been better to have 30 more games with Huet than the potential of a player who in the most likely of scenarios will never even sit on the bench for 30 NHL games.

This season he was nothing but a class act. His play on the ice was once again exceptional, but his attitude off it was invaluable. He is a true gentleman and a real team player. Players like Huet don't come around often and it is a shame that Gainey couldn't see his true value through his Price-tinted glasses. No better evidence of Huet's total class than the day he got traded. I have never seen a traded player deliver such a heart-felt, gracious interview right after being told they were leaving a team they loved. He had nothing but good stuff to say about our city and team making his departure that much harder.

Where we'd have him next season
I am happy that Huet is finally being rewarded for his play and has finally earned the title of #1. Those couple of months with the Caps were probably worth millions to Cristobal - so I'm sure he harbours no ill will to the Canadiens who did a nice thing for the classy gentleman. In Chicago he will have a young, exciting team in front of him and will likely play a huge role in taking the Blackhawks back to the post-season. It was surprising that the Capitals didn't bring him back as he was the biggest reason they squeaked into the playoffs. The good news is that we will only have to play Huet once next year, if he was in our division then I would be scared. I expect Huet to go on to have a great year and will be a force in this league for years to come. I have a feeling that the Habs will regret letting this gem go, that is of course, if they don't already do. We do, however, wish him the best.

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