Jaroslav Halak

Blues insist they’re not worried about Halak after rough Olympic outing


Jaroslav Halak had an Olympics to forget, allowing eight goals on 48 shots before getting replaced by KHL backup Jan Laco.

But the Blues say it’s of little concern.

“This isn’t to dismiss the Olympics at all, but I think it’s a difficult game to (evaluate a goalie),” head coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I saw (Henrik) Lundqvist, who basically sat on the goal line because it’s a protected area from the blue paint. I saw teams who had five (players) back on every rush, so they just defended.

“I just think it’s a real improper evaluation of any goaltender.”

Halak was hooked in a tournament-opening loss to the Americans after allowing five goals on 25 shots, but was given a chance to make amends with a start against Slovenia. He dropped the ball in stunning fashion, though, surrendering three goals as the Slovenians won for the first time in Olympic competition.

Afterwards, Halak took full responsibility for the defeat.

“I think the first goal, that was a really weak goal for me,” he said, per NHL.com. “I think that kind of set the tone for the rest of the period for us. If we’re going to blame somebody, I’ll take the full blame for this loss.”

Halak was then replaced by Laco, who currently serves as Michael Leighton’s backup with HC Donbass. While Halak wasn’t officially told he was done for the tournament, he figured he was — and that proved accurate, as Laco played against Russia and in the Slovaks’ quarterfinal loss to the Czechs.

This rough outing couldn’t have come at a worse time, as the Blues and Halak were already the subject of trade rumors prior to the Games. They’ve been linked to Ryan Miller and haven’t exactly set about anointing Halak as their No. 1, as Hitchcock said the club will continue to employ the Halak-Brian Elliott timeshare.

That said, Hitchcock continues to have faith in Halak.

“Halak has been really good for us, he’s been really competitive after a tough outing, he’s had the mental capability of bouncing back and playing great the next night,” he explained.  “So we’ve got all kind of confidence in him.”

Report: Sean Avery was arrested last week

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From the Southampton Press:

Sean Avery, the former National Hockey League player, was arrested by Southampton Village Police last week on two criminal charges.

According to authorities, Mr. Avery was arrested September 30 following a routine traffic stop on Jennings Avenue in the village at about 4:09 p.m. He was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.

Police said the criminal mischief charge involved an incident the day before, when Mr. Avery allegedly threw objects at passing vehicles.

As for those counts of possession, according to the newspaper, Avery was found to have “two prescription drugs, acetaminophen with oxycodone and roxicodone.”

He was released on $500 bail and ordered to appear in court at a later date.

Did we mention he’s supposed to get married this weekend?

H/t Gawker

Devils send ’15 first-rounder Zacha back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.

Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.

The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.

“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”

At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.

The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.

Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.