Apparently Peter Budaj likes playing against the Boston Bruins. And Michel Therrien has noted the fact. Including his days in Colorado, Budaj has a 3-1-0 record and a 2.71 goals against average in five appearances. He also has a 3-0-0 record in Boston.
Therrien told reporters Thursday morning that the decision to start Budaj in Boston was not spur-of-the-moment but made at the beginning of January when the goaltending schedule for the month was being worked out in consultation with goaltender coach Stephane Waite.
As a member of the Canadiens, Budaj’s only two appearances against the Bruins came last season, both of them in Boston. He was the winning goaltender in both. Statistically, he was 2-0-0 with a 2.87 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
On March 3rd Budaj stopped 30 of 34 shots in a 4-3 win after the Canadiens scored two unanswered third period goals (Pacioretty and Desharnais) Included in his night was a last second save on Tyler Seguin who was looking at an empty net before Budaj shut it down.
On March 27th – Playing their second game in 24 hours, the Canadiens came up totally flat hanging starter Carey Price out to dry in the second period when Boston scored all four of their goals on 17 shots. With the score 4-2, Budaj started the third period in what everyone but Budaj thought was a mop up job. Budaj allowed one goal on 15 shots as the Canadiens outscored the Bruins 3-1. Gallagher and Markov with nine seconds remaining in regulation time forced the game into overtime tied at 5-5 and ultimately a shootout. The Canadiens outscored the Bruins 3-1 in the period
Budaj allowed one goal on 15 shots. The Canadiens came back on goals by Gallagher and Markov with nine seconds left on a power play. Budaj then stopped all six in the shootout before Brendan Gallagher ended it.
The other start in Boston was March 6, 2007, when he stopped 21 shots in a tough 2-0 shutout win over Tim Thomas and the Bruins, a game finally decided on an empty net goal by Milan Hejduk with 50 seconds remaining.
Is Therrien playing a hunch? If so, it’s an educated one. In hopes of turning around a losing streak he started Carey Price in eight straight games including back to back games in Washington and Detroit last weekend. While he had an outstanding night in the win over Carolina on Tuesday, he also had to be relieved in two of the three previous starts. It was time for a break, especially with another back-to-back weekend upcoming.
Factor in those Budaj winning performances last March and it’s not hard to see the logic of the decision, if not the wisdom. If it doesn’t work out, the second guessers will have a field day and Therrien will be the target. But that’s hockey in Montreal, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to Canadiens goaltending.