|In eight career starts at the Bell Centre, Jaroslav Halak is now a perfect 8-0 with three shutouts.
MONTREAL – Things can move pretty quickly in the NHL. Just ask Jaroslav Halak.
Barely a month ago, there was Halak squished on a bus along with his Bulldogs teammates in Hamilton before a tap on the shoulder from his head coach on trade deadline day changed that in a hurry.
“When Don Lever came to see me that day at practice, I was sure that I had just been traded,” recalled Halak of that fateful Feb. 26 morning when Cristobal Huet was dealt and he was called up. “All I know is, I’m happy to still be here and be able to help the team.”
Halak is certainly doing that. Following his 3-0 blanking of the Islanders, the 22-year-old netminder is now 2-0 since being recalled while earning the first star in each of his two starts.
“I didn’t know much about him before he got here last year, but from what I’ve seen so far, he’s a really good goalie,” affirmed Christopher Higgins. “When you look at where he was picked in the draft, he’s an absolute steal. I’m just glad we have him.”
Picked 271st at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Halak has gotten accustomed to being patient, very patient.
"Not playing every night isn't easy," said Patrice Brisebois, who like Halak has seen limited action of late. "Jaro has been working really hard at practice and he earned this shutout. He's making a difference whenever he gets his chance and that's all you can ask for. I couldn't be happier for him."
Head coach Guy Carbonneau is equally impressed by Halak.
“His attitude has always been good,” said Carbonneau. “All he wanted to do was show us what he could do. He isn’t the biggest goalie around, but he plays big. He’s played extremely well in each of his two starts, and he maybe played even better against the Islanders than he did in Los Angeles last week. He again was in complete control.”
Speaking of control, in eight career starts at the Bell Centre dating back to last season, the Slovak puck stopper is now a perfect 8-0 with three shutouts.
“I was looking forward to playing at home again because it had been over a year since I last did,” said Halak, who was showered with chants of his name as the clock wound down in the third period. “It’s always a challenge to play in front of the greatest fans in the world. I hope I’ll be able to keep my streak here at home alive for a long time.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com