Dustin Tokarski Has Himself to Blame

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When it comes to young players, all they can ask for is for someone to give them a chance to prove what they can do. If they work hard on their art, if they are good students of the game and good learners and if they have good coaching, an opportunity is all that they want.

When he was traded to the Canadiens, that’s what Dustin Tokarski wanted. He couldn’t ask for a much better goalie coach than Stephane Waite, who has worked miracles with Corey Crawford in Chicago, and took Carey Price to the next level.

Tokarski got the chance of a lifetime when Price went down to injuries in the series against the New York Rangers in the spring of 2014 and to his benefit, he took full advantage of it. If the Canadiens lost that series, it wasn’t because of Tokarski’s goaltending and those performances made then backup Peter Budaj expandable.

The following season, the native of Watson, Saskatchewan had a good start but cooled off in the second half of the season, to the point that the coaching staff was reluctant to give Price much needed days off. And it was all downhill from there for Tokarski.

At training camp this fall, he was not ready. Mike Condon was and he basically stole the job from Tokarski, who was so bad that even rookie Zachary Fucale impressed management more at camp and pushed the former backup down the organisation’s depth chart.

Still though, Tokarski had other chances to prove himself this season with the two sets of injuries to Carey Price, combined with the fading play of Condon. He took part in six games this season for the Canadiens and has only managed one win, while posting a dismal saves percentage of .878 and a goals against average of 3.18, well below respectability.

His lack lustred performances even forced GM Marc Bergevin to acquire a more experienced goaltender in 29 year-old Ben Scrivens, which ultimately spelled the end of Tokarski with the Habs.

While Tokarski now finds himself in an organisation without a Carey Price in front of him, the Ducks are a team with some good depth in goal and he will have his work cut out to get back to the NHL. Tokarski needs to take a deep long look in the mirror, realize that he blew it with the Canadiens and that he must get his act together quickly if he hopes, one day, to realise his dream of landing a job in the NHL.

Kassian out, Scrivens in

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Well there you have it. The rumour that’s been spreading like bad weeds for a few hours already has been confirmed, resulting in the Oilers getting their hands on Zack Kassian and the Canadiens getting… Ben Scrivens, a goaltender who seems to have lost his Mojo in recent years.

This is very disappointing for the Habs’ fan base as Kassian was acquired in return of Brandon Prust, a player well liked by everyone. But let’s not kid ourselves here: the most disappointed has to be GM Marc Bergevin, who took the time to sit down and have a heart to heart with Kassian after he acquired him… only to be let down by the big winger.

This trade does not address the team’s biggest need and there is no doubt that Bergevin is working on something else, but in the meantime, it speaks loudly about the turn for the worse taken by Dustin Tokarski’s career.

After some good play in the playoffs against the New York Rangers, Tokarski’s play has slowly spiralled downwards last year to the point where the organisation didn’t feel comfortable giving nights off to MVP Carey Price.

And it only got worse from there. Tokarski lost his backup job at training camp when largely outplayed by Mike Condon. When called up to play a few games when Price was injured, Tokarski had one decent game which earned him back-to-back starts, only to be pulled in the second game and that was the end of him, forcing Bergevin to look outside the organisation for help.

Don’t be fooled here folks, Scrivens is NOT the saviour, nor is he ahead of Condon in the depth chart as we speak. He is there to give Condon a rest once in a while, something Tokarski was unable to do. There is an outside chance that he might perform well enough to take Condon’s spot as Price’s backup, but it’s doubtful.

Some are speculating that Price’s injury might be worse than announced, but people should not read that into the acquisition of Scrivens. Even if on schedule, Price hasn’t touched the ice yet and the Canadiens have some hockey to play in the meantime.