You guys should probably be betting to win this one. We just came off a hard game in Chicago and the visit to the Pres will likely have gotten into LAs heads so should be an easy win for you guys. Good luck!
When the 8th seeded Habs played Pittsburgh and Washington, they knew the opposing team's skaters were a superior collective force. But Halak was a difference maker and saved the team.
Even if we expect the skaters to be even with or slight underdogs to LA's skaters, Halak has to stand tall. Otherwise he's Just A Guy, and one who is the highest paid on his team. And is whining. I cannot recall an instance where Halak stepped up and was a huge difference maker in a must-win game. It's not technically a playoff game, but there should be every bit that pressure right now on the Blues going into tonight. So I'll judge Halak by whether he meets his difference maker standard, purely on performance. Can he do it even once in a Blues uniform in a must-win game? I don't care if he allows goals that technically weren't his fault. That's not good enough if you're not Just A Guy. If you're Just A Guy, then sure, don't blame him for a loss, but certainly don't have him on the cash-strapped team next year at 4.5M.
This x 1000!
I would like to add that even though Halak helped Montreal win those two series, he also got pulled a couple times in each series. He would give up 5 goals on 20 shots then the next game he would give up 2goals on 50 shots. I remember watching a the game 7 Canadians/Capitals replay after we traded for him. He looked the exact same as he does now. Poor glove hand, terrible rebound control and mini mite stick handling ability. The big difference was that all 5 of the Canadians players collapsed around the net and cleared out all of the "loose change". So it's not like he was lights out the entire playoffs, he was great in a few CRUCIAL games. And I really believe that's why Army traded for him. Army knew he could crap the bed, he also knew that when he was needed the most(Olympics, elimination games, etc...) Halak would step up and make that one extra save. And in most NHL games that's the difference between a win and a loss. It's the goalie who makes that 1 or 2 extra saves when the group in front of him makes a mistake. Halak's biggest problem in STL is that he hasn't played in any real big games, where he can step up on the big stage and be the hero. Hopefully he takes tonight as a big game and out duels the Kings elite goaltending duo.
And as a former goalie, the constant excuse making is complete and total crap. The only time I would blame another player is if they shot the puck into our net. Like EJ did a couple games before he was traded. Other than that, all goals were ultimately my fault. If I'm on the ice, it's my job to stop the puck, sometimes it can be impossible, but you don't blame the circumstances, you should use it as motivation to try harder to not let another goal in and work in practice to prevent that type of goal from happening again.
At this point I would be fine with trading Halak in the off season. He's expensive and Allen should be close enough to where he can platoon with Elliott next year and take over in 2 years with Binnington as the backup. As it stands right now I think Stillman and Co. are going to have a hard time resigning everyone, but with Mac's 4.5 mil coming off the books and Halaks 4.5 mil off the books, that should give the Blues enough wiggle room to keep Petro, Shattenkirk, Berglund and Stewart. While hopefully extending Sobotka and FINALLY landing a legit partner for Petro.
Trade Perron and a 1st to Buffalo for Grigersons and Sekera! Third line center and a solid partner for Petro while reducing payroll, go make it happen Army!