If there’s anyone in St. Louis that could be happy about seeing Ken Hitchcock taking over for the fired Davis Payne, it should be Jaroslav Halak.
Halak’s tenure in St. Louis since arriving in a trade with Montreal before last season has been a roller coaster of emotion. Last season saw Halak play hot and cold like a little kid playing with the sink faucets. Going from stellar opponent-frustrating games that saw him stop everything under the sun to ones where he couldn’t stop a beach ball was how things went.
So far this season, the beach ball has been winning more often than not as Halak’s numbers have ballooned and Brian Elliott has become the de facto starter for the Blues. If the Blues are going to be a playoff team in the West, they cannot have things going like that.
With Hitchcock in place now, the Blues are going to become a tougher defensive team come hell or high water (or trades). That kind of change in action should favor Halak who thrived behind a defensive system in Montreal.
While the initial go of things could be tough while the team figures out his system and learns a new meaning of pain under Hitchcock, the end result should see Halak’s numbers come back down and allow Halak to find a comfort zone in goal. ESPN’s Craig Custance tweeted last night that any players not buying into Hitchcock’s way of doing things will find themselves shipped out of town and the last guy we’ll see on that list should be Halak.
While St. Louis fans might not have those Halak “STOP” signs ready right now, they might want to shine them up for future games.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: