January 16, 2015

Halak an All-Star, Afterall

The NHL announced on Thursday that Jaroslav Halak has been added to the All-Star roster along with Marc-Andre Fleury as they replace the injured Jimmy Howard and Pekka Rinne.

The other day after John Tavares was named, I put in my two cents on the All-Star Game and why I was happy that Halak was not going to be a part of the silliness that the few days usually provides.

While Halak is obviously not Rick DiPietro, it's still something anyone should be concerned about - especially with a game that means little, despite the efforts the NHL has taken to make it matter. But just like the NFL, nothing seems to make the event better.

Recently the NHL has upped their showcasing of the skills competition, putting an emphasis on the shootouts and letting players and goalies get creative in how they decide to shoot, or stop, pucks. So my hope is that Halak goes there and pretty much just stands in the crease, making half-hearted attempts at stopping pucks unlike what DiPietro infamously did five years ago.

Be that as it may, Halak deserved the honor of joining Tavares in representing the Isles at the event. Halak is the reason this team is leading the division, with a 23-8-0 record to go along with a 2.22 GAA and a .917 SV%. He has far and away been the Isles MVP through the first half of the season and will need to keep that up as the Isles play some tough games after the break, with many of them coming at home.

Halak's last test before being named to the team was the 3-0 shutout of the Rangers. He did get some help from the posts, but also made a few key saves in the 2nd period that allowed the Isles to continue to pick up momentum and score their goals.

Halak will have a couple of other tests, starting with Friday night in Pittsburgh and hopefully he doesn't think too much about this honor and limp into the break. This game is pivotal in the Isles quest for the Metropolitan Division crown and he'll need to be sharp.

When it comes to All-Star festivities, there is always concern for how it will affect a players rhythm. Many Mets fans still point to David Wright's dip in home runs after participating in the home run derby. And given Halak's injury troubles in prior years, I would have much rather him been home resting - just like he did in the games around Christmas.

So he'll go and play his one period while hopefully doing as little as he can for the meaningless event, while keeping the Isles play going forward in the forefront of his mind.

But for now, we enjoy his honor and the recognition the Isles are receiving for their stellar play this season.

- Chris

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