Oct 12, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
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.
Apr 16, 2014, 9:22 PM EDT
Did the Penguins deserve a power play or penalty shot?
Apr 16, 2014, 8:50 PM EDT
Get used to these stories of toughness.
Apr 16, 2014, 8:11 PM EDT
Updated with bonus goals for your enjoyment.
Apr 16, 2014, 7:45 PM EDT
Tomas Plekanec spoils Tampa Bay’s lead.
Apr 16, 2014, 7:24 PM EDT
In case there was any doubt.
Apr 16, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT
Unproven goalie vs. a gold-medal goalie in Game 1.
Apr 16, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
A battle between a scrappy underdog and a perplexing favorite.
Apr 16, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT
A little less grit against the Anaheim Ducks.
Apr 16, 2014, 5:16 PM EDT
Not Brandon Pirri.
Apr 16, 2014, 4:14 PM EDT
“He gives us the best chance to win, so he’ll be the one starting.”
Apr 16, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
But both acknowledge they’ve heard the rumblings.
Apr 16, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT
22-26-7 with a .901 save percentage.
Apr 16, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT
Sacco, Forton, Numminen and Corsi are out.
Apr 16, 2014, 2:05 PM EDT
Top seeds don’t have it easy in the first round.
Apr 16, 2014, 1:44 PM EDT
Spent one season with the Oilers, now off to SKA St. Petersburg.
Apr 16, 2014, 12:53 PM EDT
He’ll dress for the series opener against Tampa Bay tonight.
Apr 16, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT
Steve Mason is “out.”
Apr 16, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Short answer: Plenty.
Apr 16, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT
Pittsburgh won all five meetings between the teams during the regular season.
Apr 16, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT
Prove us wrong, all 16 teams. Prove…us…wrong.
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