At the beginning of the season, the St. Louis Blues made a conscious effort to treat Jaroslav Halak as their clear-cut No. 1 netminder, and work him as such.
But now, at the midway point of the season, the Blues are playing a familiar tune in goal.
The Halak-Brian Elliott timeshare is back and kicking, as St. Louis heads into tonight’s game versus L.A. as the only NHL team to have two goalies with at least 13 wins.
It’s something Ken Hitchcock is embracing.
“Brian has played well, Jaro has played really well, both guys deserve to keep playing,” Hitchcock explained, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “So we’re going to keep playing both guys.”
Things weren’t always this way. Halak was the goalie of record in 22 of St. Louis’ first 28 games as the club appeared to be anointing a definitive starter, possibly in the hopes of avoiding the scenario that arose in each of the last two springtimes — a debate over which goalie would start come playoff time.
So Halak was the guy but, as he’s done in years past, Elliott eventually found an opening. And he took full advantage.
Halak fell ill with a virus that gave Elliott the opportunity to start, and he responded by going 6-1-1 in December with a .930 save percentage. The veteran netminder has been equally strong this month (3-1-0, .936 save percentage), earning NHL second star of the week honors on Jan. 6.
Despite all this, it sounds like Blues players believe Halak is still their starting netminder.
“We know that Jaro is our No. 1, but the fact that Brian keeps champing at his heels is good for (Halak),” Kevin Shattenkirk said. “We’re lucky we have two guys that compete and want it so badly, because that only brings good goaltending.”