Oct 12, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
The St. Louis Blues came into this year challenging Jaroslav Halak to take the No. 1 goaltending gig and run with it.
He’s accepted the challenge so far — and then some.
Halak’s a perfect 3-0-0 with a .948 save percentage and 1.33 GAA, earning high praise from his captain, David Backes.
“Best I’ve ever seen him,” Backes told NHL.com’s Lou Korac. “He’s dialed in, he’s competing and his work ethic every day — even at practice — is up a few notches.”
Over the past two seasons, St. Louis has been content with the one-two goalie punch of Halak and Brian Elliott. For the most part, it’s served the team well — Halak and Elliott combined to win the Jennings in 2011-12 for fewest goals allowed and backstopped the Blues to consecutive playoff appearances.
But for this season, the timeshare was nixed.
As per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Blues pushed Halak to be their No. 1:
The Blues believe Jaroslav Halak has to be their man. Gone in St. Louis is the politically correct spin that the Blues have two capable netminders and both will battle for starts.
The Blues have made a collective, organizational decision that this season is Halak’s to win or lose. They’re handing him the keys, perhaps for the last time, being that Halak is a UFA after the season.
Halak rededicated himself in the offseason, staying in St. Louis to focus on his workouts instead of going home overseas, and showing up to camp dropping his body fat from 14 percent to 8 percent.
And just in case there were any lingering questions about who’s net it is in St. Louis, the Blues are giving Halak his fourth consecutive start on Saturday against the Rangers.
According to head coach Ken Hitchcock, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Halak starts six straight to begin the year, though that’ll depend on if he can continue his hot play.
Mar 6, 2015, 9:50 AM EST
Both players were scheduled to become restricted free agents after this season.
Mar 6, 2015, 9:45 AM EST
He was handed the key to the city on Thursday in Ottawa.
Mar 6, 2015, 8:50 AM EST
He’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 13.
Mar 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EST
Friday’s collection of links.
Mar 6, 2015, 1:36 AM EST
Minnesota, Calgary and L.A. all win on Thursday.
Mar 6, 2015, 12:34 AM EST
Philly comes back with three goals in the third period.
Mar 6, 2015, 12:02 AM EST
Arizona snaps 10-game losing streak.
Mar 5, 2015, 11:46 PM EST
Mar 5, 2015, 11:02 PM EST
Brock Nelson scored the winner.
Mar 5, 2015, 10:23 PM EST
“That. Just. Happened!”
Mar 5, 2015, 10:11 PM EST
“It’s humbling there’s no question.”
Mar 5, 2015, 9:16 PM EST
Once a 30-goal scorer in the NHL.
Mar 5, 2015, 8:40 PM EST
Curtis McKenzie drops the gloves.
Mar 5, 2015, 7:13 PM EST
“At the same time, Mike will maintain his focus on doing all he can to help Nashville win its first-ever Stanley Cup.”
Mar 5, 2015, 6:47 PM EST
Won’t suit up when the Caps take on Minnesota.
Mar 5, 2015, 6:24 PM EST
That’s former minor-league player Jordan Hart.
Mar 5, 2015, 5:27 PM EST
Big forward who doesn’t mind dropping the gloves.
Mar 5, 2015, 4:26 PM EST
He recently called them the “best group I’ve had since ’09.”
Mar 5, 2015, 3:35 PM EST
Might get into coaching.
Mar 5, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
Nashville’s won just two of its last eight.
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