What happens in Russia stays in Russia, when it comes to the Blues and starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak. Halak was 0-2 for Slovakia at the Olympics with a 5.13 goals-against average and an .857 save-percentage. He was benched for the final two games of the tournament in favor of little known Jan Laco, whose numbers at the end were actually more impressive. The Blues, though, say they’re unconcerned about Halak, who is 24-8-4 with a 2.26 GAA and .915 save percentage this season, including a mark of 8-2-2 before the Olympic break. They’ll turn back to him tonight against Vancouver in the first of 25 remaining regular-season games. “This isn’t to dismiss the Olympics at all, but I think it’s a difficult game to (evaluate a goalie),” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I saw (Henrick) Lundqvist, who basically sat on the goal line because it’s a protected area from the blue paint. I saw teams who had five (players) back on every rush, so they just defended. “I just think it’s a real improper evaluation of any goaltender. Halak has been really good for us, he’s been really competitive after a tough outing, he’s had the mental capability of bouncing back and playing great the next night. So we’ve got all kind of confidence in him.” Slovakia went 0-3-1 at the Olympics and gave up 16 goals, the second most at the tournament. Nearly half of those came in an opening-round 7-1 loss to the U.S., in which Halak surrendered five goals on 25 shots before being lifted. “That’s hockey. We didn’t play great,” Halak said. “At the Olympics, when you play against the best, you need to play the best. We need to do our best every night. We didn’t do that.” Halak received the nod in Slovakia’s second outing against upstart Slovenia, a game that remained 0-0 into the third period. He finished with 28 saves, but Slovenia managed a 3-1 victory.
Halak ready to rebound from Olympics
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Feb 26