Habs' Tokarski Playing Like a Veteran Between the Pipes
With names like Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden, Steve Penney, and Patrick Roy having all accomplished great things in the postseason at a young age, there is no doubt that the pressure was on Dustin Tokarski to do the same when we found out Carey Price would miss the rest of the series. With a franchise that has the history that they have, how can one not expect their netminder to turn superhuman at the most important time of the year.
While he may not have a lot of NHL experience or end up being anywhere near as good as the above-mentioned goaltenders, there is no doubt that Tokarski is doing what he can to keep his team in their Eastern Conference Finals series with the New York Rangers. In two games, Tokarski is 1-1 with a 2.56 goals against average and a .925 save percentage, which is not bad for a 24-year-old goaltender making his first career appearance in the Cup tournament.
With that said, however, when evaluating Tokarski, one has to look at more than just the numbers and instead, look at what he has done on the ice with his play between the pipes. In fact, it can be said that the Canadiens head into tomorrow night's Game 4 at Madison Square Garden down 2-1 because of the great play of Tokarski in Game 3 on Thursday night.
Two nights ago in his first playoff start at the famed MSG, Tokarski played like a seasoned veteran between the pipes for his hockey club. He made the big saves when he needed to, did a good job of controlling his rebounds, was able to slow the play down when the team in front of him needed a rest, and more importantly, ended up helping his team win a hockey game.
As mentioned above, Tokarski made several big stops in this hockey game. He robbed Rangers' forward Martin St. Louis twice with his glove, once in the second period, and then again late in the third period when the Rangers were trying for the tying goal.
Tokarski also did a good job of not giving the Rangers many second and third chances. He was able to swallow up a lot of shots with his glove, and when the shot was up high in the chest, he did a good job of letting the puck hit him in the logo and drop down into his blocker and glove for a stoppage in play.
There were also several times in the game where Tokarski was able to get a much needed stoppage of play for his hockey club by holding onto the puck. Throughout the game, there were times when Tokarski could have played the puck after stopping it, but instead, he ended up holding onto it to give the team in front of him a rest, as they were under siege for most of the tilt.
Even though the loss of Price is unbelievably negative at this point of the year, Tokarski has stepped in and shown the team, their coaching staff, and their fans that he can get the job done and provide the goaltending they need to make this a series.