As the Boston Bruins roll on to face the Detroit Red Wings Saturday, they’ve got one at least one thing to hang their proverbial hats on: the play of goalie Jaroslav Halak.
Halak has been playing exceptional hockey and Boston has been following suit, gathering three wins in four games.
Halak has been playing more in large part due to a little preseason rust on Tuukka Rask.
This situation, which some are calling a “goalie controversy,” kicked off as the Bruins fell to a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of the Capitals on opening night. Rask allowed five goals on 19 shots and Halak was brought in for relief, allowing two more on 18.
From there, Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins had decisions to make.
Halak was started against the Sabres and took home a shutout, stopping all 32 shots. Rask took the next game against the Senators and Halak took the win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, making 25 saves for the 4-1 victory.
So, the Bruins have two veteran starters, in effect, and they’ve been splitting time in the crease.
Halak is 2-0, with a 1.18 goals against average and a .961 save percentage.
Rask is 1-1, with a 5.52 goals against average and a .840 save percentage.
Halak has been the better of the two Bruins goalies thus far. It’s too early in the game to suggest that he gets the starting gig, but Cassidy and Co. have some decisions to make. And the Bratislava native has been making his case.
Halak spent the last four seasons slogging on Long Island. He started 59 games his first season there and started 49 games his last. He bundled up 20 wins last season, with a 3.19 goals against average and a .908 save percentage.
And now that he’s with the Bruins, it seems like all that hard work may start to pay bonuses for the 33-year-old. Winning the starting gig is always the ultimate goal for a goalie, but hockey is a team game.
“The guys make it easier on me. You know, their D,” said Halak. “They’ve done a really good job of boxing out guys or letting me see the puck, for the most part, if there are sometimes that I don’t see the puck. They block the shots, and there weren’t any secondary chances out there. So far it’s been good, but like I said, we’ve got all the games left. We all know we can clean up a little bit and play well.”
Indeed, the Bruins do have “all the games left.” But Halak is making his case against a struggling Rask. At the very least, his stellar play will light a fire under the Savonlinna native and kick things off in a better direction.