We’re two games into this fresh NHL season and Jaroslav Halak is already stepping up big for the Boston Bruins.
On Thursday night, Halak delivered a gem in his first start for the Bruins, stopping 32 Buffalo Sabres shots en route to a 4-0 shutout. It was the 43rd of his career.
“Yeah, it feels great,” said Halak to reporters. “It makes it more special that I got a shutout but I think it was a great team effort tonight.”
Even though he played with a lead for most of the game, Halak came up big in certain instances such as this beauty in the first period.
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A win is a win, but that particular play is just a defensive lapse from John Moore. He gets caught puck-watching, is a second late covering Evan Rodrigues out front and the Sabres should’ve had a goal.
Fortunately enough for the Bruins, Halak was in net to stop it.
On Wednesday night in Halak’s first appearance, the Bruins were even worse in front of him. Tuukka Rask can also attest to that same problem as well. This particular play came on a Bruins man-advantage.
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Again, Halak came up huge.
Halak also talked after the game about what was said following the previous night’s debacle.
“We talked about last night,” said Halak. “We all knew that it just wasn’t good enough and we needed to come back and bounce back tonight and that’s what we did.”
Even though it’s one and a half games for Halak thus far and he was slated to start in Buffalo anyways, Bruce Cassidy may have a big decision to make on his hands.
Who should start Monday: the starter or the streaking backup?
Both are justified. Rask gave up five goals on 19 shots in the first game; Halak only gave up two goals on one less shot in the same game and then pitched a shutout the following night.
In the past, Cassidy has shown no problem going with the hotter of two goalies. At the end of November of last year, Cassidy elected to go with then-understudy Anton Khudobin over Rask during a west coast road trip.
That decision set Rask back on track and was the driving force behind a 112 point finish for the Bruins.
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— Boston Bruins on CLNS (@BruinsCLNS) October 3, 2018
On the other hand, electing to go with the hot-hand this quickly into the season could shoot down Rask’s confidence. A date with the lowly Ottawa Senators on Monday could be just what Rask needs to get back on track.
Either way, it won’t be an easy decision for Cassidy.
The season-opening dumpster fire had all the chance in the world of derailing the beginning of the Bruins season. The game against the Sabres could have easily been a trap — without enough time to regroup after a 7-0 loss, the Bruins would walk into Buffalo and cave to more of the shell-shock they experienced in the nation’s capital.
Instead, Halak stood in net and quelled the flames.