When Don Sweeney, General Manager of the Boston Bruins, announced the signing of Jaroslav Halak during the offseason, there were a few who questioned the move. Some felt that the 33-year-old netminder may have been past his prime, and certainly there were those who brought up the fact that he was on his fifth NHL team by signing with the Bruins organization.
The back-up goaltender for the Bruins, he has been proving himself a worthy adversary. With his win on Thursday night, December 20, 2018, against the Anaheim Ducks, he holds an 11-5-2 record while wearing the Spoked-B, and his current goals against average is 2.20 with a save percentage of .930.
The soft-spoken tender talked consistency in his preparation to help him be ready for a game.
“No, I just, you know, take it shot by shot. You know, I try and always warmup the same way or whatever. At the start of the game you just want to feel the puck, have a few shots against,” Halak said.
Coming off his third shutout victory as a Bruin (and his 45th career shutout) from Monday night’s road game in Montreal against the Canadiens, it perhaps should not have been a surprise to see Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy start him again during their home game against the Ducks. His first two shutouts with the Bruins came in his first start back on October 4, while the team was in Buffalo, against the Sabres and then on October 25, back in Boston against the Philadelphia Flyers. He was the first Bruins goaltender to get a shutout in his first start since Jeff Hackett did it back in the 2002-03 season. And he is only the third netminder in team history to notch two shutouts within his first five starts as a Bruin.
The native of Bratislava, Slovakia has also found himself busy in the crease from time to time. In his 11 games, he has already faced 40 or more shots four times, going 2-2-0 in those games. While he didn’t see that many shots from Anaheim—they got 25 shots on net—some of his saves were definitely game changers. Had the Ducks scored, it could have resulted in an immediate momentum shift in favor of the Ducks. Twice during the game, he robbed Anaheim.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 21, 2018
“Obviously in the first period they didn’t have much and in the second, you know, they had some chances on the [man advantage]. But I think for the most part we didn’t give them anything on the PK. Our PK was great in the first and in the third and in the second they only had a few chances, so I think our PKers did an outstanding job tonight. And our power play as well – scoring two goals for us,” Halak said.
And while it was true that the entire team had stepped up during both the games against the Canadiens and the Ducks, there were still some big stops that Halak had to make.
As the clock ticked under the five-minute mark during the third period Thursday, it was beginning to look like Halak might get back-to-back shutouts. However, rookie Josh Mahura for the Ducks, would put an end to that when he notched his first career NHL goal at 15:44 of the third.
“Yeah I really wanted him to get another shutout, just kind of a tough break. I won the face-off, hit my shin and bounced back the other way, it happens sometimes,” David Krejci said. “He still should be happy with these last couple games, he played really well.”
As for Halak, he commended his teammates for their strong play in front of him.
“I think it was more of a team effort than anything because I think for one thing we played really well defensively, offensively, and we skated well. We were good on the forecheck and I think tonight we did the same thing. You know, we stayed aggressive at the times that we needed to and everybody was on the same page throughout the 60 minutes,” he said.
Signed through the 2019-20 season at the bargain price of $2.75 million a year, he has shown that he is worth every penny of that contract. And if he continues to play at such an elite level, he could make things hard for Cassidy when it comes to picking a starting goaltender in upcoming games.