Halak Ready to Go, Plenty to Prove
The Blues announced today that they have activated Jaroslav Halak from the IR. Halak hasn't played since February 14th against Vancouver, and has missed time due to a cracked bone in his right hand. His return has sent Ben Bishop back to Peoria, and pushed Ty Conklin to the backup role. Only 16 games remain on the team's schedule, but Halak has plenty to prove before the season ends. The Blues are out of the playoff hunt. At this stage, Halak's main goal should be restoring confidence not only in himself, but in the fan base as the team closes out the season. His numbers through 43 games this season sit at a 19-17-6 record, 2.63 GAA and a .907 save percentage. Unfortunately, these numbers are pretty close to his career averages - 2.62 GAA, .915 save percentage. It is worth noting that these numbers are through a relatively small sample size as Halak has only appeared in 144 regular season games during his young career. The fans and the management were expecting the Jaroslav Halak we saw for Montreal in the playoffs, but to date, that version of Halak was only present in the season's first month. Now is the time for the real Halak to stand up, to borrow an increasingly overused cliche. Plenty of questions surround what this team will look like both on and off the ice this summer. Ownership/investment questions still persist. The Blues could be spenders this summer, and could bring in some new faces. A lot of uncertainty lies ahead - goaltending can't be one of them. Halak is destined to get the majority of the work the rest of the way and needs to bring back the confidence fans had in him during the first month of the year. He needs to stay collective and poised, keep his positioning and challenge shooters. His style is naturally relaxed but he needs to avoid becoming too relaxed, as we have seen numerous times, which ends up leading to soft goals. I'm curious to see what exactly Halak brings to the table. His play this year has made me very nervous for the future and has left me wondering if the team's management acquired him purely on his postseason heroics, while ignoring his regular season averages.