Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Halak expects to bounce back; reaction to Oshie goal; Jaskin to play vs. Bruins

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- If Jaroslav Halak is bothered by the criticism thrown his way after Blues losses when he's in net, he hides it well.

What the Blues' netminder has done well, though, is park poor or average outings in the rear view mirror and focus on the next opponent.

That next opponent is the Boston Bruins, and Halak, who was stellar when the Blues beat the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout in Boston on Nov. 21, will get the start again Thursday night after allowing four goals on 31 shots in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night.

Blues fans are quick to place blame on Halak or Brian Elliott when the team suffers a loss, and Halak admitted that he, along with the rest of the team, has to be better.

The Blues squandered a 3-1 lead in the third period when the Senators scored three times in a span of 2 minutes 35 seconds to grab a 4-3 lead.

"It's one game like that. Obviously we've got two more games before the break," Halak said. "That last game, I think we played a really good game and in four minutes, we gave up three goals that was really hard, but that's hockey. It brings you strange bounces, strange deflections. That was one of the games like that. Everything they touched, it went in. Obviously I have to be better, too, in the third period, and especially in the shootout."

Halak allowed those three Ottawa goals on four shots and once again had Blues fans clamoring for Buffalo's Ryan Miller, who's been rumored on the trading block for what seems like an eternity.

Halak is 23-8-4 on the season with a 2.27 goals-against average and .914 save percentage, and he was obviously shell-shocked when Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris and Jason Spezza all scored. The ladder two goals came off deflected skates or sticks.

"As a goalie, you have to put it aside, you have to forget that it happened and basically start over, start one shot at a time, try to stop the first one and build off that one," Halak said. "I've felt good for a while. I'll be ready to play when I go back in."

Halak's teammates have one thing to say to those that are quick to criticize the goalies: stop.

"It's definitely not Jaro's fault," T.J. Oshie said. "There's only been maybe a couple games in my career where the goalie just had a bad night. It all starts with us ahead of him, especially the forwards on the forecheck and the back check and the 'D' to cover us when we make our mistakes and then for Jaro to cover them or Ells to cover them when they make their mistakes."

That's why Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is going right back with his No. 1.

"He didn't have a great night, but he's been great for a month now," Hitchcock said of Halak. "If that's his one off night, that's fine. He's going to come back and play tomorrow. Jaro I'm sure will step back and be good tomorrow."

* Oshie goal reaction -- Blues players and coaches were still talking about the delayed-call goal scored by Oshie in the second period Tuesday that gave the Blues a 2-1 lead.

Oshie rifled a shot into the top half of the net that nobody knew initially that it went in. Oshie knew and pointed to the officials that the Blues scored, and after video review, it confirmed the goal.

Magnus Paajarvi, who got the primary assist on the play when he threw a shot that goalie Robin Lehner kicked into the opposide circle and Oshie one-timed in, is a friend of Lenher. Both are Swedes, and Paajarvi asked Lehner what happened on the play.

"I kind of had the 'D' on me, but I skated up to Lehner -- I know him very well -- and I asked him, 'Do you know where the puck went,'" Paajarvi said. "He knew where it was. He was like, 'No, it was bar-out.' It was a good comment from him so I didn't really care much after that. I thought it was bar-out, because nobody saw it after that. But Oshie was very observant and kind of had that look.

"It was good that it was a break because we got extra time. It wouldn't have been a goal otherwise. It's weird because even in the replay, it's hard to see the puck. It's such a hard shot. Weird goal."

Hitchcock said he and some others thought it might have hit the cross bar and gone out of play, and more or less couldn't believe Oshie missed the net.

"You've seen some of those where they've gone in and out of the bar, but my thought on the bench was, 'I can't believe he missed that,' because there was no goalie in the net," Hitchcock said. "There was nothing. The goalie was out and nobody knew where the puck went because it didn't even come back in off the mesh. I couldn't believe it. He never misses that and he didn't. He stuck it right under the bar."

* Jaskin to play -- Hitchcock confirmed that Dmitrij Jaskin, recalled Monday after the knee injury to Vladimir Sobotka, will play Thursday against the Bruins after being a healthy scratch Tuesday.

Jaskin, who has his father Alexei and brother Mikhail are in town to see him play, will get a chance to play against a premier and quality opponent. Jaskin has one goal in six games this season.

"Yeah, I think he's going to play tomorrow," Hitchcock said after the optional practice Wednesday. "I'm not sure what's coming out, but he's a weighty player that needs to get used to playing in this type of competition. I think he can really help us. 

"He's really good down low. You're not going to get anything off the rush. You're not going to get any odd-man rushes against him. You're going to have to really battle hard for your chances. He's a guy that's willing to do that. I want to see him play in this game."

* Reaves for the shootout? -- Part of the optional skate today, which included nine skaters and Elliott, was a shootout session.

Elliott was able to thwart all comers until ... Ryan Reaves used some creativity to score and end the drill, to which Reaves said afterward: "Did you see that move? Almost broke by ankle doing it. Make sure Hitch hears about it. Just subtly tell him."

The Blues dropped just their third shootout in nine tries Tuesday, and Reaves playfully made his bid for selection if needed.

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