Jaroslav Halak save

Halak still experiencing “discomfort” from ankle injury


On Apr. 14, Jaroslav Halak was pulled from Game 2 of the Blues-Sharks series with what was later revealed to be a high ankle sprain.

Three months later, he’s still not 100 percent.

That’s the word out of St. Louis as Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch caught up with Blues GM Doug Armstrong, who spoke about the ailing netminder.

“[Halak’s] still experiencing a little bit of … I don’t want to say pain, but a little discomfort when he does some movement,” Armstrong said. “The injury lingers, and for a goalie, because of the movement that’s necessary, it takes a little longer than maybe for a skater.”

In June, the Blues said Halak’s target date to be cleared for activity was “early July.” Now it’s more like “late July” as Armstrong said he’ll be cleared by the 21st (Saturday) and will return to St. Louis from his native Slovakia in August.

The big question is if a three-month layoff will mess with Halak’s offseason training regimen. The Jul. 21 clearance date gives him two months to rehab and get back into game shape — assuming the season starts on time, of course — something that doesn’t seem to worry Armstrong.

“I’m 100 percent comfortable that within probably a week he’ll be cleared and be ready to go by training camp,” Armstrong said. “We’re in a good spot right now with that injury … so there should be no issues.”

Note: Rutherford also writes that St. Louis is “expected” to again use the Halak-Brian Elliott combo in goal next season, and shares this…

The two goalies appeared to feed off each other during the regular season, which is why Halak’s absence in the playoffs was a costly one.

Elliott rose to the occasion in the first round, helping the Blues oust the Sharks in five games, but faltered in the second round, being asked to start a season-long string of seven games.

Halak played in 46 games (25 wins) and Elliott played in 38 (23 wins). The pair combined for 15 shutouts — nine from Elliott, six from Halak.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen