Over a week ago, Tuukka Rask stunned the hockey world when he opted out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Since then, Jaroslav Halak has taken over and silenced any doubters. With Halak as the starter, Boston has regained their regular-season form and advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Although the Bruins playoff run is far from over, Halak has already risen to the challenge and then some.
In five playoff starts this year, Jaroslav Halak has been perfect, going 4-0, not including the round-robin tournament. On Sunday night, the veteran netminder won his fourth straight start in a dominating Game One win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. While Halak allowed two goals, he had a solid game and stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced, good for a .946 save percentage.
Through four playoff games this year, Halak has faced 110 shots and made 103 saves. He’s compiled a goals-against-average of 2.23 and a save percentage of .921. Every time Halak has taken the ice, he has given the Bruins a chance to win as he has only allowed more than three goals once so far this postseason.
Although the Bruins postseason run only just begun, Halak has filled in perfectly for Rask. As Halak has done throughout his tenure in Boston, he has stepped up when needed most. His play is even more critical now as the Bruins have no room for error against one of the NHL’s best teams in the Lightning.
Entering this postseason, Halak had only played in nine playoff games since 2011. In that span, he went 4-5 and allowed 19 goals. So far, this postseason Halak has looked confident and barely shown any rust despite playing so infrequently since March.
Additionally, over Halak’s five playoff starts, he has made 29 saves or more in three of them. The former ninth-round pick has been able to keep the Bruins in games as he only allowed more than two goals in one of those starts. That was on display Sunday night as Halak held a talented Tampa Bay team to one goal despite many high percentage looks.
As the playoffs continue, Boston’s success will partly depend on the play of Halak. Through five starts, Halak has lived up to the challenge. The Bruins have not lost with him in the net in over a week.
The Bruins are hoping that it is the start of a special run as they look to win their first championship in nine years.