Jaroslav Halak is returning from the AHL
After a dreadful start to the season, New York Islanders veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak was placed on waivers, and eventually to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Halak’s season began with a .904% save percentage and an abysmal record of 6-15 through December. This led to his movement to the AHL where he put up stellar numbers, finishing with a 17-7-3 record to go with his .925% save percentage and 2.15 goals against average, good enough for third in the league. Halak eventually battled his way back to the NHL, when he was recalled to the Islanders to play his first game with them in over two months.
His first outing was against the highest scoring team in the league, the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Halak turned away 37 shots out of 40 to give the Islanders the much needed 4-3 shootout victory as they make a push for the playoffs.
The last two seasons, Halak was an extremely serviceable starting goalie for the Isles. He played a total of 95 games, recording a 56-30-8 record in that time. 2.37 GAA and .917% save percentage were nothing to be upset about either. All of which is what made his massive drop off to start the 2016-17 season such a surprise to everyone. His play was just not where it should’ve been for the first three months, before being sent to Bridgeport.
Halak is looking to redeem himself as he can become the hero of the Islanders playoff push. He started well, defeating one of the hardest teams in the league to play goalie against. Coach Doug Weight will continue to use Halak as long as he is playing this well. The team is going to need stellar goaltending now more than ever, as they are two points out of the final wildcard spot in the eastern conference. Their loss to the Boston Bruins Saturday (the team they trail in the standings) stings a bit, but Thomas Greiss manned the net for the Isles in that outing; in which he faced just 20 shots and gave up two even strength goals. Halak will look to return to the crease for the Islanders next game Monday against the Nashville Predators. A solid performance and a victory by Halak here could help himself as he attempts to earn back his number one goalie position. The Islanders are in need of someone to step up big, and this would be Halak’s best chance. To follow captain John Tavares as he continues to lead the team as they make their push for the playoffs. Tavares has scored 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points in as many games played for the month of March. The Islanders are 6-7 in that time, having given up 4 or more goals 4 times in that span.
The Islanders former Slovakian starting goaltender will continue his attempt to be the push the team the needs as they try to be the fifth team from the Metropolitan division to make the Stanley Cup playoffs before the end of the season.