St. Louis Blues introduce Jaroslav Halak, unveil two new goalie mask designs

It was a bit of a surprise when the St. Louis Blues shipped a couple prospects to the Montreal Canadiens to gain Jaroslav Halak’s restricted free agent bargaining rights, but it’s tough to blame the frequently goalie-challenged franchise for taking a swing at one of the breakout stars of the 2010 playoffs. Many people wonder if the longtime backup turned short time Habs savior will ever match those previous heights, but the Blues clearly are excited to have the Slovakian netminder aboard.

Here’s video of the team’s press conference introducing Halak to Blues fans and media.

While the PR-coached interviews and press conferences are a nice celebration of Halak’s arrival, you might also be interested to see what kind of mask he’ll wear next season. As it turns out, He will wear two different masks in 2010-11.

The first features the St. Louis skyline as well as some of the club’s best goalies: Jacques Plante, Mike Liut and Grant Fuhr (sorry Curtis Joseph). Here are some shots of that mask from the Blues Web site.

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(click to enlarge, othersideskylinehalak.JPG

(click to enlarge, photo from the Blues)

The second includes renderings of Halak’s favorite childhood cartoon, Lucky Luke (not to be confused with the “Lucky Luc” Robitaille). Here are some photos of the second mask from the Blues Web site and St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Jeremy Rutherford.

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(click to enlarge, luckylukehalakmask2rutherford.jpg

(click to enlarge, image via Jeremy Rutherford.)

I’m not sure if he’ll wear one mask more than the other or if he’ll rotate one for road games vs. home games, but they are both decent if not amazing designs. It’s always nice to pay tribute to the history of a franchise and Halak is wise to honor the Blues’ long history in the NHL.

If things go well, a future goalie’s mask might just feature an artist’s rendering of Halak himself.

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    Mike Smith is out will illness that is not the mumps, Coyotes say

    GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07:  Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Arizona Coyotes during the preseason NHL game against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    The Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that she was told Mike Smith is missing tonight’s game because of an illness that is not the mumps.

    You may recognize “not the mumps” as the NHL’s version of letting out a barrage of coughs and then insisting the issue is not contagious.

    Anyway, Smith is out tonight as the Arizona Coyotes visit the Stars in Dallas. With that, Louis Domingue gets the start while the team made an emergency recall of Adin Hill to be his backup.

    A quick 411 on Hill: the 20-year-old goalie was the 76th pick in 2015 by the Coyotes. He’s put together some solid work after being promoted from the ECHL to the AHL this season, managing a respectable .916 save percentage in 26 games with the Tucson Roadrunners.

    It’s been a tough season for Domingue (5-13-1, .895 save percentage, 3.29 GAA), so you almost wonder if the Coyotes are tempted to see how Hill would handle a little relief work.

    Rare wave of injuries for Capitals as Oshie, Orpik are also out

    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Matt Niskanen #2 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammate T.J. Oshie #77 after scoring a third period goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Verizon Center on March 2, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    The Washington Capitals have been outright dominant this season, but there’s one opponent they haven’t faced very often: injuries.

    They’ve been healthier than everyone else to an almost spooky extent in 2016-17, yet it seems like they’re dealing with a rash of ailments for the first time in a while.

    The injury list for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers appears to be: Matt Niskanen, Andre Burakovsky, Brooks Orpik and T.J. Oshie.

    We already knew that Burakovsky will miss some time and that Niskanen was injured after colliding knee-to-knee with Radko Gudas. Oshie and Orpik are bigger surprises as far as their lineup goes. It seemed like Oshie took some significant hits against the Flyers in that same game that injured Niskanen, so maybe that’s the issue there?

    Here’s what the Capitals lineup will look like, via the team itself:

    The team labels Oshie’s injury as upper-body related while Orpik and Niskanen have lower-body issues. On the bright side, those three are all considered day-to-day.

    Riley Barber makes his debut with all of these injury absences.

    Predators are a wild card in more ways than one

    NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 21:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators is congratulated by teammates after scoring a hat trick against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on February 21, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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    The Nashville Predators have really earned the “wild card” moniker lately, even beyond holding the West’s first wild card spot.

    Such a label could describe their up-and-down 2016-17 in general, and it might only intensify over the next few weeks.

    Trade deadline players?

    Nashville boasts Filip Forsberg, a guy with rare back-to-back hat tricks, not to mention other quality scorers such as James Neal, Ryan Johansen and diamond in the rough Viktor Arvidsson. (Their defensemen can produce points in buckets, too.)

    But perhaps they can go from sporadically good to regular contender with that extra boost?

    Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes that the Predators could be in on talks to acquire Matt Duchene or “somebody big” at forward. Duchene, himself, might be tough to get:

    That schedule, though

    Honestly, the way their schedule looks, the Predators might need a shot in the arm.

    Check out what they’re dealing with during the next few weeks:

    Saturday: vs. Capitals
    Sunday: vs. Oilers
    Tuesday, Feb. 28: at Sabres
    Thursday, March 2: at Canadiens
    Saturday, March 4: vs. Blackhawks
    Tuesday, March 7: at Ducks
    Thursday, March 9: at Kings
    Saturday, March 11: at Sharks
    Monday, March 13: vs. Jets
    Thursday, March 16: at Capitals
    Saturday, March 18: at Hurricanes

    That’s a rough mixture of tough opponents and road games, with even games against non-playoff teams being less than layups (the Hurricanes can beat you when they’re on point, for instance).

    The Predators are in the first wild card spot. They’re also not far behind for the third seed in the Central, as the Blues hold a tiebreaker advantage over Nashville right now with both teams at 67 standings points.

    That schedule could be an issue, however, for a team that’s been vulnerable to hitting highs and lows.

    On the other hand, we’ve also seen hints of the dominant squad many penciled in as a possible contender in 2016-17. In a weakened West, the Predators remain a fascinating team to watch. That could be especially true in the near future.

    ‘Hawks nab Jurco in trade with Red Wings

    Tomas Jurco
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    The Chicago Blackhawks picked up some forward depth today, adding winger Tomas Jurco in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings.

    In return, the ‘Hawks sent the Wings a third-round draft pick in 2017.

    Jurco has only appeared in 16 games this season. He has no goals and no assists.

    The 24-year-old was forced to undergo back surgery this past offseason.

    “I could still play with it but the worst for me was sitting on the bench all the time,” Jurco said in November, per NHL.com. “Sometimes I’d have to get up and walk. Sometimes I’d stretch it. It was bad and I’ve been sitting a lot for the last couple of years on the bench. It was really tough but I’m glad it’s gone and I’m excited for a fresh start.”

    A pending restricted free agent, Jurco’s cap hit is just $900,000.

    In a corresponding move, the ‘Hawks assigned rookie forward Vinnie Hinostroza to the AHL.