The Washington Capitals aren’t committing to Jaroslav Halak as the starter for the team’s matchup against the St. Louis Blues tomorrow, but it’s tough to imagine head coach Adam Oates rolling out Braden Holtby in this instance. Halak has been Washington’s go-to guy in goal since a whirlwind of activity leading up to the deadline saw the netminder end up in Washington.
He was part of the trade that allowed the Blues to acquire Miller, and the Buffalo Sabres then flipped Halak to the Capitals for a third-round pick, Rostislav Klesla and Michal Neuvirth. Whether or not Miller has been an upgrade over Halak remains to be seen, but the former Blue would probably love a shot to take down his former team.
He spoke to Mark Giannotto of The Washington Post about his feelings heading into St. Louis:
It’s still fresh. I play there for four years. I know these guys. We’ll see whether I play or not, but obviously I’m looking forward to go back there… Obviously, I wasn’t happy when I got traded. You’re trying to build something with a team, trying to play well for them and then you get traded.
If Halak does get the nod, it’s more than a simple revenge game for the former Blue. A loss in St. Louis could mathematically eliminate Washington from the playoff race. That’s another reason why it’d be surprising to see Holtby play this contest. Oates has done stranger things as a coach than throw a curveball like that, but Halak will have double the motivation to stand on his head and play well.
The Blues will be looking to bounce back from a weekend set against two of the top teams in the Western Conference that saw them lose by a combined score of 8-2. Miller took the loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday before Brian Elliott was walloped yesterday.