Here we are a month into the season and wouldn’t you know it, we have another goalie problem. It seems like every season or two we go down this road. Jaroslav Halak was supposed to be the second coming when the Blues traded away prospects Ian Schultz and Lars Eller to the Canadians after the 2010 Playoffs. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before but didn’t the Blues bring in a lot of “first string goaltenders” over the past few years? Just since the lockout the Blues have played 14 different goaltenders (Good for second in the league behind TB’s 16). A few of the “highlights” from that list include: Patrick Lalime, Manny Legace, Chris Mason, Ty Conklin, Hannu Toivonen (who was recently in the news for not being able to stop the puck; everyone in St. Louis already knew that), and who can forget Chris Holt? (Who?)
Halak has played better his last 2 appearances, even know they both have been losses, and that brings me to my question. With a big rivalry game at Scottrade on Tuesday v. the Hawks, who gets the nod between the pipes? While there isn’t a right or wrong answer, cases can easily be made for both candidates. Here’s my list of why either guy should(n’t) start… feel free to chirp in with your comments down at the bottom.
Jaroslav Halak: Reasons he should start: Halak is coming off solid performances in Edmonton and Minnesota. Even though he is 0-2 in those games you have to look at the games themselves. The Blues skaters in front of him were abysmal at best but Halak still managed to keep each game from getting to far out of hand. Both of those games, especially on the road, could have been way worse than 4-2 and 2-1 respectively. The players don’t play with any fire when Halak is in goal, they don’t trust him, you can see it in their play. They want Elliott in goal and that is a huge blow to Halak’s confidence.
Reasons he should ride pine: His numbers speak for themselves. Jaro is 1-6-0 with a 3.35 GAA and a save percentage of 85.6%. Of the 64 NHL goaltenders to make an appearance this season those numbers rank towards the bottom. His .143 win percentage puts him 54th in that category. In GAA, he ranks 53rd. His god awful SV % is worst of them all, 62nd, with only Brian Boucher and Alex Auld behind him who have both played considerably less than Halak.
Brian Elliott: Reasons he should start: Elliott is obviously the hot hand, and the fan favorite right now. Fans are over-reacting (only a little) by calling for the Elliott-Bishop tandem but as much as Halak isn’t the answer, neither is Elliott. Brian “don’t call me Billy” Elliott has been around the block in his short NHL career playing for Ottawa, Colorado, and now St. Louis. His numbers have never been this good and he is obviously finding a good groove here.
Reasons he shouldn’t start: Not many. The only reason I wouldn’t play him is to try and get Halak, who is still the number 1, some playing time and some confidence. However, I don’t think this is the game to do that as the Blackhawks come in as the number 1 team and offense in the West.
With the game still 2 days away there is no indication of who will start on Tuesday to kick off a 5 game home stand. The Blues really need to do well this streak at home or they could find themselves in a big hole early in the season.
What do you guys think? If you were Davis Payne, who gets the call for Tuesday? Leave your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an e-mail with any questions or anything you would want to get my take on at firstname.lastname@example.org