By Jamie Gatlin
Last week Tuukka Rask shocked the hockey world when he decided to opt-out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. While the decision came just as the playoffs had begun, the Bruins are still in capable hands with Jaroslav Halak in the net. As the Bruins playoff run continues, Halak’s play will be critical to their success. It will also present Halak with a chance to add a unique twist to his legacy in Boston.
Following the Bruins comeback victory against Carolina on Monday night, Halak has a postseason record of 15-16-0. In 32 career playoff games, he has a save percentage of .923 and GAA of 2.40. The veteran netminder has yet to record a shutout, but he only allowed one goal against Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
While Halak’s playoff numbers are substantial, he has been one of the leagues’ best netminders over the past two years. During Halak’s career in Boston, he has a record of 40-17-10. In that span, he has a save percentage of .921 and GAA of 2.73. Over the past few seasons, Halak has been a steady presence in net and finished the 2019-2020 regular season with the sixth-best GAA in the NHL.
Halak’s time in Boston, however, may be defined by what happens in the coming weeks. Despite Halak’s regular-season success’s, he has only appeared in 12 playoff games over the past nine years. He also is replacing a goaltender who is a Vezina finalist.
Additionally, the Bruins finished the season as the President trophy winners and have already dealt with some critical losses in the postseason. David Pastrnak has not appeared in a game in over a week. While Rask’s departure comes at a crucial time, the Bruins have found ways to win without two of their top players and have a commanding 3-1 series lead over Carolina.
Their success is partly due to Halak, who has started the last two games. In that span, the veteran netminder has made 47 saves and allowed four goals. Even though Monday night wasn’t Halak’s best performance, he kept the Bruins in the game until the offense took over.
Although the Bruins postseason run is far from over, Halak has shown that he can handle the added responsibility of late. During Halak’s time in Boston, he has become a fan favorite due to his steady and, at times, dominating play. As the playoffs continue, he now has the opportunity to become a postseason legend in Bruins history.