Habs' Auld gets rare start

JEAN-PHILLIPE BERTRAND, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:42 PM ET

BROSSARD, Que. -- Back-to-back games might be a tough go for the Montreal Canadiens this week, but it's given backup goalie Alex Auld an unprecedented opportunity.

The veteran netminder, signed as a free agent from the New York Rangers last summer, will get his first start for the Habs Friday night against the New York Islanders -- the first of three games in four nights for Montreal.

Coach Jacques Martin said bringing Auld into the mix helps alleviate the work load for starter Carey Price.

"With four games this week and three next week, it was important to give Carey a rest," Martin said.

Auld, 29, was a spectator during the Canadiens' first nine games, during which they surged to a 6-3 record to sit atop the Northeast Division. He says he's "very excited" to get the chance to help his team continue its winning ways.

Friday's road game against the Islanders will be the second against the same team in three days. Auld spent Wednesday's game taking copious notes on his adversaries.

"Aside from being extremely dangerous on the power play, the Islanders tend to shoot regularly from the point," Auld noted.

Auld is the definition of a journeyman. The Canadiens are his eighth team since he was drafted in the second round by Florida in 1999. His best season was with the Canucks in 2005-2006, when he appeared in 67 games, sporting a 33-26 record with a 2.94 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.

He has spent the rest of his career as a backup, but says he's always ready to go.

"I know my role and I know what I have to do to help the team," said Auld, who signed a one-year deal in July.

But he admits it's not easy for any athlete to be ready when they're so seldom called upon.

"It's hard to reproduce real-game intensity in practice," said Auld. "That's why I have to keep things simple on the ice."

Auld has not started a game since April 6 when the Rangers lost 5-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Price has earned his rest. The 23-year-old is off to a hot start, with a 6-2-1 record in his first nine games.

The four-year veteran had only started nine consecutive games once before in his career, posting a 4-3-2 record from Nov. 12-Dec. 1 last year.


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