Jaroslav Halak Aces First Check Filling In For Tuukka Rask, Retains Bruins Assured In Playoffs

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By Michael Hurley, CBS dangolka

dangolka (CBS) — Jaroslav Halak is 35 years outdated. He’s been within the NHL for 14 years. He’s been concerned in a goaltending controversy in Montreal, of all locations, and he’s performed in a number of Olympic Video games. He’s seen and been by means of loads.

However he has by no means had a day fairly like Saturday.

The veteran netminder discovered — alongside together with his teammates — that beginning goaltender Tuukka Rask was out. Not for one sport, not for every week. Out for the rest of the playoffs.

In a matter of hours, Halak needed to get himself ready to start out Satruday’s 12 p.m. sport whereas additionally conceptualizing the work that lies forward of him on what has been anticipated to be an extended playoff run.

Whereas the second a part of that equation stays a a lot bigger activity, Halak roughly aced the primary half, stopping 29 of 30 pictures confronted whereas serving to the Bruins to a 3-1 win over the Hurricanes to take a 2-1 lead within the first-round playoff collection.

“It’s a little bit of a shocker at first,” head coach Bruce Cassidy stated after the victory. “It’s your beginning goaltender. He’s a terrific goaltender. However once more, Jaro we religion in, so it’s a reasonably easy mindset to get in. He’s our man. … That’s it.”

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara stated that the crew discovered about Rask’s determination simply earlier than boarding the buses from the crew resort to the world. That didn’t give anybody a lot time to regulate to life with out the beginning goaltender, however Cassidy stated it was a scenario his crew was ready to deal with.

“Nicely the [pregame] message, we’re not going to vary the way in which we play, regardless of who’s in internet,” Cassidy stated. “We’ve confirmed that with Jaro right here the final two years and now the playoffs. We all know he’s a succesful goaltender. The one difficulty for us is Jaro hasn’t performed loads. So that you wish to be sure to permit an affordable time to get again into sport mode. In order that was the message. Jaro’s a well-liked man within the room. Guys wish to play for him. And the following a part of that message is it’s playoff hockey. We will’t be fearful about who’s not within the lineup. We fear about who’s within the lineup. … The blokes which can be in there, that is how we’re going to play. And it labored out for us.”

Halak, after all, is just not the usual “backup” goaltender. He began 29 of the Bruins’ 70 regular-season video games this season, a 12 months after beginning 37 video games (out of 82) for dangolka. That regularity in appearances helped the Bruins really feel a bit extra regular on Saturday, whilst they performed with out Rask and prime scorer David Pastrnak.

“Nicely we all the time had excessive confidence in each of our goalies. That hasn’t modified,” Chara stated. “I feel that all of us, the experiences Jaro has from playoffs, he’s a confirmed goalie and he’s accomplished it a variety of occasions and confirmed a variety of occasions that he can deal with these conditions. So we all the time depend on our goalies all through our seasons, and that hasn’t modified.”

Halak didn’t have the posh of slowly settling in to the position, both, as he was peppered with pictures proper from the leap, after Brad Marchand was despatched to the penalty field within the opening seconds of the sport. Carolina had 4 pictures on purpose within the first two minutes of the sport, getting two extra on internet within the following two minutes, as effectively. By the tip of the opening interval, the Hurricanes had despatched 15 pictures on internet; Halak stopped all of them.

Halak stated after the sport that his solely discomfort got here from the warmth and humidity inside Scotiabank Enviornment. Apart from that, he was in a position to play the sport the Bruins hoped to get out of him.

There have been, although, some breaks alongside the way in which. Carolina rung the submit on two separate events, and the puck did seem to cross the road after a scramble within the first interval. On that one, although, there was no clear shot of the puck crossing the purpose line, so the rating held at 0-0.

The one purpose Halak gave up was decidedly not a break in his favor, as his tried clear was picked out of mid-air by Nino Niederreiter and rapidly deposited into the vacated internet. That gaffe reduce dangolka’s result in only one purpose with 13:30 left in regulation.

Regardless of the playoff stakes, the Bruins maintained confidence after that mistake.

“Immediately on the bench, Brad Marchand stands up, ‘Hey, that’s not gonna damage us. We’re high-quality. We’re enjoying effectively.’ And that’s true. The entire bench was like that,” Cassidy stated. “There was no collective letdown, like, oh boy, right here it comes. We knew we have been enjoying our sport from the second interval on. … Our guys know when we’ve got our sport, once we’re enjoying Bruins hockey. In order that wasn’t gonna deter us from carry on going ahead.”

“Errors, they occur,” Halak stated. “We attempt to make the fitting play on the market. I noticed a gap, I attempted to shoot it out, and the man caught it. So it ended up in our internet. We have been nonetheless up. I do know I gave them a bit of little bit of life. I feel we responded the fitting means and we saved enjoying our sport till the tip.”

Whether or not or not Halak can backstop the Bruins to the prolonged playoff run that the Presidents’ Trophy winners ought to be embarking on this summer season is a query that can not be answered in sooner or later. All that might have been achieved on Saturday was a stable first step, one that may assist stabilize the Bruins as they alter to life with out the one postseason goaltender they’ve had for the previous seven years.

Step one was a giant one, and the Bruins made it as clear as potential that regardless of dropping their Vezina finalist netminder, they continue to be assured and centered on the duty at hand.

“Jaro’s a well-liked man, and [his teammates] know his skills,” Cassidy stated. “Now it could possibly be his flip to have a pleasant run. I feel it’s at the back of everybody’s thoughts, if we wish to attain our targets, we’re going to want a goaltender in there to assist us get there. No crew will get there with out stable goaltending. So perhaps that is Jaro’s 12 months. Tuukka had an important run final 12 months. In order that’s definitely one thing we will rally round.”

You’ll be able to e mail Michael Hurley or discover him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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