The summer of 2010 brought a very significant change to the roster of the St. Louis Blues. For the first time in what seemed like years, the Blues had a legit number one goaltender, when they traded for Montreal backup goalie Jaroslav Halak. Halak was coming off of a historical postseason in which he led the eighth seeded Canadiens past the first seeded Washington Capitals and the number four seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He has been referred to as a “playoff hero”. All in all, it seemed like Halak could be the Blues’ starting goalie for years to come.
Defeating Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby was not Halak’s only accomplishment. That season the young netminder had obtained a record of 26-13 along with a 2.40 GAA and a .924 SV%. There was no dispute, Halak was St. Louis’s starting goalie.
His first season with the Blues saw Halak earn 27 victories, a 2.48 GAA, and a .910 SV%. It wasn’t bad, but it was about to get better. The 2011-2012 brought Halak tremendous success. The 27-year-old goaltender had a record of 26-12-7, a 1.97 GAA, a .926 SV%, and 6 shutouts. He was the set starter for the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, but got injured in game two against San Jose.
Halak is a tremendous goalie down low. When he got on a role during the 2010 playoffs, he was making a lot of highlight real saves with the pads. He was tremendous under pressure then, and he is good under pressure now. You have to be good under pressure with the current St. Louis system. They win close, low-scoring games. Both Halak and Brian Elliott were instrumental in allowing this to happen in 2012.
Prediction: 28 GP, 17-8-3, 2.10 GAA, .922 SV% Halak should start a few more games than Elliott, and should experience 2012-like success.
When St. Louis originally signed Elliott it came as a moderate surprise, since it seemed like Ben Bishop was going to get the backup job last season. Still, The Blues signed Elliott and he ended up winning the #2 spot after a good training camp. Elliott was coming off of a couple bad seasons in Ottawa and Colorado. The 27-year-old had something to prove. In 2012, Elliott led the league in GAA (1.56) and SV% (.940). He also earned 9 shutouts and a 23-10-4 record. He played in eight of the team’s nine playoff game last postseason. Proven.
Elliott was more consistent than Halak during the 2012 campaign. Halak had his struggles, and Elliott really helped the Blues get back on track early in the year. His play can be described as steady. The Blues have a defense that allowed a league-low 26.7 shots per game last season. Elliott thrived on this last year, making timely saves to keep St. Louis in hockey games. Elliott will most likely get fewer starts than Halak though, unless Halak has a minor hiccup again.
Prediction: 20 GP, 12-7-1 2.35 GAA, .918 SV% Elliott having another good year is likely, him leading the league in GAA and SV% again is not quite as likely.
The Blues are in good shape in the goal crease. Both Halak and Elliott will be depended on heavily to lead St. Louis into the postseason. Having two excellent netminders will come in handy for a condensed schedule.