Jaroslav Halak impressed during the World Cup of Hockey, but his resurgence complicates the New York Islanders goalie situation.
After coming off of a groin injury sustained on Mar. 8 2016, Jaroslav Halak has posted a 1.98 GAA and a .946 save percentage with Team Europe in the WCH (World Cup of Hockey). Halak has effectively put to bed any doubts that Islanders
Halak has effectively put to bed any doubts that Islanders fans or hockey fans had of his skill. However, that has only made Garth Snow‘s job much harder in deciding what to do with his three goaltenders.
Europe’s Advantage In Goal
Taking a close look at Halak’s game-to-game stats shows just how impressive his performance has been, even more-so when you look at the roster of defense that he had in front of him. Aside from Roman Josi, two of Europe’s best defensemen are former Islanders Zdeno Chara and Mark Streit who are 39 and 38 years old, respectively. The only other notable addition is Christian Ehrhoff who has been decent on his best nights.
To shed more light into his .946 save percentage, Halak has faced the most amount of shots of any goaltender in the tournament, with 111 thus far. Averaging 37 shots faced per game, it’s easy to see that he has been on his feet throughout every minute of action. Again, with the defense in front of him, it’s hard to imagine that number decreasing. As Team Europe progress further into the tournament, things will only get more hectic.
How Everything Fits
What seemed as easy (to some fans) as trading Halak for a draft pick or two has now become easier, but with more implications. It was the belief right after the Islanders post-season berth (to these same fans) that Greiss would be the starter and that Halak would walk.
However, after Greiss lost the opportunity to start for Team Europe, the battle is now more level. After all, it was easy to overlook a goaltender who had not made a start in over six months. This fact also further highlights just how impressive Halak’s resurgence is. His off-season has been relentless after his surgery including his workouts, dieting, and training which are at an all-time high.
As noted in a WCH goal-tending article posted last month, Team Europe’s crease would have a spotlight on it during the tournament. For now, and if this trend continues, Halak is the clear winner for the battle of starting goaltender.
Fans can only hope he isn’t the odd-man out when Snow makes a move.