Jaroslav Halak has had a bit of time to meet his new teammates and get used to the idea of playing for Washington after being acquired on Wednesday. Now it’s time for him to get his first start with the Capitals.
He will play between the pipes in their game against Phoenix tonight. They’re three points shy of the second Wild Card spot and have lost three straight contests, so the Capitals need this win. Still, Halak is trying to take a calm and calculated approach.
“I started a new chapter right now and we’ll see how it’s going to go,” Halak told the Washington Post. “Obviously I’ll try to do my best but I’m not going to try to put too much pressure on me.”
While playing for St. Louis, Halak won the Jennings Trophy with Brian Elliott in 2011-12. However, his following campaign was sidetracked due to injuries and while he posted a 2.23 GAA and .917 save percentage in 40 games with the Blues this season, they ultimately discarded him in favor of Ryan Miller.
Halak is leaving one of the best defensive teams in the league, so moving to Washington will be a test for him. Still, he’s shown before that he’s capable of carrying a team. That’s what he did in 2010 playoffs when he pushed the Montreal Canadiens past the Capitals.
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
The Post-Dispatch goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: