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Between the pipes

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – The Habs have caught fire down the stretch and the man wielding the matches is none other than Jaroslav Halak.

While some of his teammates were resting up during the Olympic break this February, Halak was busy standing on his head for his native Slovakia at the Games. Since coming back from his performance in Vancouver, the young netminder hasn’t missed a beat, adding six more wins to his dossier which also includes a 2.00 goals-against average and a sparkling 0.923 save percentage.

When Halak posted his 23rd win of the campaign in just 36 games so far this year on Tuesday night, he found himself in some pretty elite company, joining an exclusive club that counts the likes of Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, Martin Brodeur and Chris Osgood.

With his 3-1 showing at Madison Square Garden this week, Halak bolstered his win percentage on the season to 0.686. In the last 20 years, only 27 goalies have ever finished the year above 68.5 percent. In fact, since 1917, only 10 Habs goalies have managed to accomplish the feat, including Hall-of-Famers Ken Dryden, Jacques Plante, Bill Durnan and Roy.

The season may be far from over, but at just 24-years-old, if Halak keeps up his winning ways, he could become the second-youngest goalie to ever finish with such a high percentage. Only a peach fuzz sporting Osgood at age 21 in 1993-94 and then again in 1995-96 – when he led the league with 39 wins in 50 games – managed to hit the mark at a younger age. 

At the moment, only two goalies who have played more than 30 games this year have a better win percentage than Halak. Both of those netminders are backstopping teams at the top of their respective conferences, namely the Capitals’ Jose Theodore and San Jose Shark Evgeni Nabokov. 

Still 11 games from the finish line, Jaro’s sights are set on just one thing: helping earn his team a spot in the postseason. But the wins that get him there will also cement his place in the club’s history books.

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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