Jaroslav Halak: The Underrated Isles Goaltender

If one set out to get NHL insiders and writers opinions on ranking the starting goalies in the league, I do not believe Jaroslav Halak would receive the recognition he deserves. The 30-year-old netminder slips through the cracks when discussions are done in terms of  the better goalies in the league. Make no mistake, I am not saying that Halak is a franchise goalie. But once you go through that short list of franchise players between the pipes, Halak is at bare minimum in the conversation with the next wave of goaltenders. Halak is not thought of more in the league because he has bounced around a bit. He has been with Montreal, St. Louis, Buffalo, Washington and now the Islanders. When you think of the upper third goalies in the NHL, usually they have been with one team, two at the most. I think that’s part of the reason that Halak gets overlooked and is underrated.

Last Season

Last year, Halak did everything he could in terms of giving the Islanders a chance at a magical season. He played in 59 games, had a record of 38-17-4, with a 2.43 goals against average and .914 save percentage. Halak was fifth in the league in wins during the regular season and was only one of seven goalies to be plus 20 or better in terms of more wins than losses in regulation. The performance Halak gave the Islanders last year should have been good enough to challenge for the division title. That did not happen because the Isles did not get enough quality outings from their backup goalies. New York is hoping that will change this season with Thomas Greiss as their No. 2 netminder.

During the playoffs, Halak held up his end of the bargain and then some in the seven-game series that saw the Isles fall to the Capitals 2-1 in the deciding game. For the series, Halak had a 2.30 GAA with a .926 save percentage. In addition when the Islanders where getting outplayed badly for most of Game 7, Halak kept his team in the game. The Isles had no business being in that game, it should have been an easy win for Washington. Because of Halak, the Islanders had a chance to win when there shouldn’t have been one.  The Islanders lost their first-round series to the Capitals due to their failure to produce enough offense, specifically on the power play.

YouTube player

Halak’s Career

For his career, Halak has a 182-102-33 record, 2.39 GAA and .917 save percentage. Halak has won at least 26 games in five of the last six seasons. The exception was 2012-13 when he was hurt and only played in 16 games. Outside of 2012-13, Halak has had a .910 save percentage or better every full year of his career. His save percentage falls between .910 and .925 on a given year. Since the 2009-10 season, Halak has been under a 2.50 GAA every season. Three of those years Halak was at 2.31 or better.

One of the things that has impressed me the most about Halak is his mental attitude towards the game. In watching countless interviews with him last season, I saw a player that kept demanding more and more out of himself for his team. I saw a player dedicated to his craft who continues to want to improve. Halak has stayed steady, despite bouncing around and playing with a number of different teams and teammates. But now he is with the same group of players for awhile and that consistency regarding his surroundings can only help his game. Halak still has three years to go on his four-year deal, so he will be the No. 1 guy in goal for the Islanders for the foreseeable future.

Follow me on Twitter @TheNLKing