In a move that could have ramifications all the way to Brooklyn, Team Europe appears primed to anoint Jaroslav Halak as its No. 1 netminder for the World Cup of Hockey.
On Wednesday, head coach Ralph Kruger said Halak would start Europe’s final exhibition game tonight (versus Sweden, 7 p.m. ET), and all but confirmed the veteran Slovak will be the No. 1 when Europe opens the tourney against the U.S. on Saturday:
Halak’s largely been the man for Team Europe throughout the exhibition campaign. He played all 60 minutes in an opening loss to Team North America — allowing four goals on 21 shots — then came on in relief of a beleaguered Thomas Greiss in the rematch, after Greiss was hooked after allowing four goals in just over 10 minutes of action.
As mentioned above, this development goes beyond Team Europe.
Halak and Greiss are set to (presumably) jockey for the Isles’ No. 1 gig this year. Halak was the starter for a good chunk of last year until succumbing to injury, which Greiss used as an opportunity to showcase himself as a potential No. 1.
The German ‘tender went 23-11-4 with a .925 save percentage and 2.36 GAA last year, and helped the Isles win their first playoff series since 1993. The Isles also have a somewhat intriguing prospect in J-F Berube, who they re-signed this offseason.
At the Isles’ locker clear out day in May, Halak said the three-goalie setup was “not ideal,” adding that management will “have to decide which way they want to go for next season.”