Today’s 5 observations on current events in the National Hockey League.
1. Jaroslav Halak revitalizes career for the St. Louis Blues
Jaroslav Halak was awful last season – there is no other way to say it. By the second half of the short campaign, the Slovakian net minder was watching from the press box while Brian Elliott played near flawless hockey, with Jake Allen on the bench in support. It’s always odd when a good NHL player has an uncharacteristically bad season.
Brad Richards of the New York Rangers was shockingly weak last year, as was Halak. This season, Richards is scoring again, and Halak is winning again. Maybe the lockout threw some guys off – that is reasonable to believe.
As to why Halak lost his role as starter last year, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock told Fox Sports Midwest, “the reason he [Halak} wasn’t playing down the stretch last season is because he wasn’t healthy.”
Read full article here.
Halak is off to a wicked start. You want numbers? He’s 4-0-0 in record, with a 1.74 GAA, and a mighty fine 0.934 SV%. Looking good.
Halak becomes a UFA at the end of this season, as does his stunt double, Brian Elliott. If the ball keeps rolling in St. Louis, and the wins keep piling up, Jaro may get a nice big extension at some point this season. Players produce in contract years.
2. Sharks and Blues – battle of the undefeated
The Sharks and Blues have equally allowed 7 goals against, but the Sharks offence is proving more potent. 24 goals scored by the Sharks leads the league in that department. So, if it’s a close game – a one goal wins it affair – the Sharks are more lethal at finishing.
Blues defence is stacked. The six man unit they throw on the ice every night is loaded with skill and quality. The Sharks have the slight edge in offensive players, I’d say the Blues do in defensive players.
Last week the Blues beat the Blackhawks in what has been the best game of the NHL season so far. This evening’s contest between San Jose and St. Louis should, and hopefully will, challenge for the distinction of best game in the 2013-14 NHL season so far.
3. The meaning behind player names
I read a very fascinating article about player name origins on a site I also write for called The Hockey Writers. The author, Cherie Tinker, did a great job researching and articulating player name meanings. Check it out here, courtesy of thehockeywriters.com
4. James Reimer to start for the Leafs tonight
Reimer’s back! Ever since being pulled in the Leafs 3rd game of the season, James Reimer has been riding the pine for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Offseason acquisition Jonathan Bernier has exceeded expectations as a Leaf ever since beating up Ryan Miller in the preseason. And he’s played very well in net too.
This evening poses a great opportunity for Reimer to win back some playing team with the Leafs. If he wins decisively, he’ll play more. However, if Jamie boy gets pulled again, my oh my.
All eyes will be on last season’s #1 in Toronto, as he takes on the Minnesota Wild tonight at 7:00 EDT. Check your local listings.
5. Chris Pronger’s NHL career is officially over
It was confirmed today by Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren that NHL legend Chris Pronger is officially done as a player.
It’s a sad ending to an incredible career. Chris Pronger is a Stanley Cup winner with the Anaheim Ducks, Norris trophy winner with the St. Louis Blues, and the only defenceman to win the Hart Trophy over the last 50 years, not including Bobby Orr.
Pronger often gets remembered as a dirty player, and it’s true, he crossed the line sometimes. But let’s be honest, he was dominant. Chris Pronger is one of the best blue liners to ever play the game. Guaranteed, first ballot Hall of Fame member.