Halak struggles, Blues burned by Iginla & Flames, 3-2

 Jarome Iginla scored the game winner at 12:58 of the 3rd period Sunday night at the Saddledome, giving the Flames a 3-2 lead Miikka Kiprusoff would uphold for a victory, their 7th straight in Calgary. St. Louis got goals from TJ Oshie and Vladimir Sobotka while Jaroslav Halak only mustered 14 saves in the losing effort.



FINAL 1 2 3 T
BLUES 0 1 1 2
FLAMES 1 1 1 3

Unlike many of their losses this season, Sunday’s match-up against the Flames was one where the Blues played a very strong game from start to finish. The Blues out-shot Calgary 38-17 overall and absolutely blasted Kiprusoff in the 2nd period with 19 of them, but Kipper was amazing throughout  underlining the difference in the game: goaltending

Let’s be honest, more often than not, when your team gives up a goal you have to give the opposition a certain amount of credit. Add a turnover into the mix (Oshie was last night’s culprit) and yes, you’re definitely giving the other guys an advantage skating in on your netminder. But when you’ve been given an opportunity to make a statement about your status as a team’s No. 1 goalie, you simply have to make some big saves, and Halak couldn’t do it against Calgary.

Roman Cervenka scored twice giving the Flames a 2-0 lead they took deep into the 2nd period Sunday, with Kiprusoff stonewalling the Blues at every turn until 16:40 when Osh was able to atone for his early gaffe with a beautiful play coming out of the penalty box.

St. Louis continued pressuring the Flames and battling for pucks and tied things up early in the 3rd period when Sobie managed to jam a loose puck under Kiprusoff’s pads at 4:48. It was his 8th of the season, a new career high and the latest reason many call him the most underrated, most versatile forward on the Blues roster.

The play exemplified the had work and sacrifices the Blues were making throughout Sunday’s game, beginning with a huge shot-block by Roman Polak and ending with Sobie banging in an Andy McDonald rebound. St. Louis played so well for most of the game, despite what the outcome says. They didn’t have the sort of letdown periods they’ve displayed in other losses. Those are the kinds of games where you need your goalie to step up his game.

Even on what would prove to be the deciding tally by Iginla with 7 minutes to play, the Blues were working hard. Yes, Iginla got behind both defensemen, but now we’re talking about arguably the best and certainly the most productive player in Calgary Flames history. At 35 he still has ridiculous scoring ability and tenacity on the puck. Wade Redden recovered to make what appeared to be an incredible play, only to see the puck pounded through Halak’s pads.

If you’ve ever watched ANY hockey at all, I don’t know how you can call that anything but a “soft goal” on Halak’s part. Again, props to Jarome on staying with the play, but after the effort by Redden to come back on him, disrupt the puck AND not take a penalty, the goalie must make that save with the lead at stake.

 Please do not mistake my criticisms here as the rantings of a crazy person. I’m not saying Halak is terrible or that he should be traded. That’s just stupid. I worried that being called upon to start both games of a back-to-back after not playing in the previous 13 days would be tough on Halak. It would be tough on any goalie. I AM saying that if Halak is going to be this team’s go-to guy between the pipes he must play better. He’s got to make the big saves in the big moments.

I think Jake Allen gives the Blues the best chance to win right now and I hope to see him in goal more often than not as the remainder of the season unfolds. Yes, I expect to see Halak get a share of the starts, but I think Allen needs to be the No. 1 guy. His rookie status has already been overshadowed by his play on the ice. He has been able to make the big saves in those critical moments and steal a game for the team. I say, “Let the kid play.”

The Blues face off Tuesday night at home against the Oilers and whether it’s Allen or Halak in net, here’s hoping for a repeat of last Saturday’s shut-out victory.

GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!



Tags: Calgary Flames Jarome Iginla Jaroslav Halak St. Louis Blues

  • Dashley R

    So, as I have said time and time again, if Halak ever looks comfortable in net, it is when he plays as a backup and brought into the game already losing or sometimes when we are playing with the lead. I still do not understand this inflated infatuation with this goaltender and his potential for “greatness”. If he was so great, why was Montreal not hesitant at all giving him up over Price? Hitchcock gave him a chance and just as I figured, he wasn’t ready and even said that post game. To quote another writer, “he **** the bed”. I personally don’t see this team improving until they trade him.

    On another note, is it just me or is this non sharp shooting, just shoot directly at the goaltender and hope for a sloppy rebound Hitchcock system not working?

    • Alex Hodschayan

      Halak is a great goalie, but he also needs the team to play well around him. I don’t think you give up on Halak when he has played as well as some of the best goalies in Blues history. He can’t carry the team alone.

      As for the shooting, Hitchcock isn’t telling them not to take good shots. He is preaching that if you don’t have a shot just throw it on net and hope for a good rebound. The Blues have been just shooting at chests and it isn’t working.

      • Dashley R

        I have nothing against the man personally nor with any other Blues player that I post my opinions about, but I don’t think he is “great”. I think sometimes the opposing team can make him look great with low shots, but those high risers seem to be his kryptonite. I understand a lot of fans want him to play as well as they think he can, but it hasn’t only been the defense making him look bad. In my opinion he has let in as many soft goals as Elliott if not more. The real truth here is that Halak is being given the opportunity to become a trusted starter and has failed so far to keep his team in games he should have. I don’t expect him to carry the team alone, but he should be expected to block the shots that are reasonably stoppable.

        I understand Hitch isn’t telling them to shoot it right at the goalie, but this gritty, grinding, dumping, screening, relying and hoping for perfect second and third rebound opportunity old school system isn’t working. Maybe the team needs to have it explained to them that they all need to work on their accuracy and their geometry. Instead of taking the team to see a movie, how about taking the team to practice their billiard skills. If you are going to intentionally shoot the puck at the goalie when you don’t think you have a shot, either put the shot more close to the corners or intentionally low to the rebound players side. To explain more thoroughly, if you are skating up onto the left side of the goal and your supporting teammate is skating up for a pass or rebound chance on the right, if the player with the puck doesn’t feel he has a good shot or pass then put the puck low off the goalies left pad to carom in the direction of the supporting offensive player.

        I know I shouldn’t have to explain this, but watching our team hit bulin directly in the chest, his pads, his blocker or putting the puck directly into his glove 43 times is just frustrating. Whatever happened to one-timers?

        • Alex Hodschayan

          There is no evidence that Halak has been as soft as Elliott. There is also no evidence that Allen is the more equipped starter. The team played very well in front of Allen for a stretch, but he is struggling again just like he did in his first game.

          Elliott has some of the worst numbers of his career. So does Halak, but Halak has a better save percentage and goals against average. Watching Elliott was like watch swiss cheese in net. Halak is our number one and he is more than capable of the job. Remember how long he sat during the lockout, doesn’t give a goalie the confidence they need.

          As for the offense, I completely agree. In the game against the Oilers we watched breakaways get wasted by just shooting at the middle of the net. There is no excuse, but I don’t think you can blame Hitchcock. This is the third coach with this core that can’t motivate them. At least in Hitch’s system we are still contending for a playoff spot.

          • Dashley R

            I can see how a lockout season can mess with goalies in the beginning, but after a while there is no more room for excuses.
            Elliott started sloppy but ended much better than most people expected. He might have let a soft goal or two in during the playoffs, but so did Quick.
            I could see it in the 11-12 season and in 12-13 season, Halak looks as if he has a confidence issue and that kind of goalie isn’t going to get you very far and now he is prone to injury. Maybe a change in scenery is the spark he needs to jump start him?

          • Alex Hodschayan

            Maybe a change in scenery does him well, but I wouldn’t say we need to move Halak. He is still an incredible goaltender that was out of shape this season. He is the real number one for the Blues and has real playoff success on his resume, Elliott does not. If we move Halak, the Blues would need to bring another number one in and that might not be easy. If Elliott falters again like he did at the beginning of last season, or if he is injured, can we really trust Allen and a goalie with no NHL experience? That would not be an ideal situation especially down the stretch.

          • Dashley R

            I do not agree, I do not think he is incredible or exceptional and if he was out of shape longer than Elliott that only shows me that betting on him to be inconsistent would be a good bet just as I have since we got him. I think he is maybe as good as a Jimmy Howard which is good, but has never hit Elite/Incredible status and this year he just looked horrible. I think who ever earns number one should be number one. We already know that the lockout played a big part rusting a lot of players before the season started, but which goalie ended up earning his spot and getting us into the Playoffs?

            I think Allen will show us what he can do next year and I am happy with our next two goalie prospects in Binnington and Lundstrom. I am not worried about who’s in goal, I think and believe it will sort itself out.