I’m pretty sure that there’re a lot of teams who would kill for the “problem” that the Blues are having. I really haven’t heard of anyone saying “oh, gosh, poor St. Louis — they have the top goaltending tandem in the league. That must be so tough for them.”
Frankly, it’s not. Brian Elliott has lost his last three (possibly four by the time of publication of this) games, but not through any fault of his own — the team couldn’t score. Jaroslav Halak has won seven games in a row and has allowed just ten goals during that stretch. Halak’s getting more self confidence as he plays. He’s starting to really go for the spectacular save, instead of the usual cool and collected, almost robotic at times, saves that he specializes in. It’s been fun to watch the team during this whole season, but it’s been a joy to watch Halak grow and Elliott rebound into the NHL’s best success story.
Elliott and Halak are numbers one and two on the NHL’s leaderboards for GAA, with a 1.63 and a 1.86 respectively. They each have six shutouts and Elliott is leading the league still in save percentage (.937; Halak is sixth at .926). The Blues feel comfortable putting either guy in net, so both of them are fresh when needed; fans feel comfortable with either guy in net, because they know that they’ll give the Blues every single chance to win possible.
That’s why the kerfluffle over goaltending for the playoffs doesn’t phase me. With the regular season almost over, attentions have shifted to the postseason at the earliest time since before the lockout. Who gives you the best chance to win during the postseason? As usual, the same guy who does during the regular season. Either choice that coach Ken Hitchcock makes is a good one.
I think that some of this issue stems from people assuming that Halak is the starting goalie, and that Elliott is rocking the boat somehow as the upstart backup with the stellar stats. It makes it much easier to handle when you approach it as Halak being the 1A goalie and Elliott being the 1B. Has Halak been playing out of his mind recently? Yep. Has he been playing on the same level as he did when he led the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2010? You betcha. Is he the gimmie for Hitchcock to go to? Unless he melts down this last stretch, he’ll be the starter. If something happens, Elliott is more than capable of getting in there without disrupting the confidence level of the team. When you have two guys in net setting records for the team, either choice is a good one.
Halak will start in the playoffs, I bet you a dime to a dollar. But if you see Brian Elliott trotted out there at any point, don’t worry — he’s got it covered too.
*Dire Straits, people. Sheesh.