Asked after the Boston Bruins' Game 2 overtime loss who he'd start in net less than 24 hours later, head coach Bruce Cassidy gave an, "I don't know."
I do. Jaroslav Halak.
This really shouldn't even be a question, but in the event that anyone out there is asking, it's Halak.
So far it's been an up-and-down ride with Halak since he took over for Tuukka Rask in the first round. He was fine in Game 3, terrible in Game 4 and good in Game 5 of the Carolina series. He had a strong Game 1 showing vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, but looked human in Game 2.
So, there's been good and there's been bad. Right now, though, up-and-down is better than unknown. Dan Vladar, currently Boston's backup, has never played an NHL game. Game 3 in the second round of Stanley Cup Playoffs against the best team in the NHL sure would be an easy way to freak a kid out, while also decreasing your team's chances of winning.
Of course, the logic behind sitting Halak in the second game of a back-to-back isn't about Game 3. It's about a hopefully deep run with a 35-year-old goalie. If the Bruins played Vladar on Wednesday, it would be in hopes of having Halak fresher and sharper in one or two weeks.
To that we can all say, worry about next week next week. Especially with Ryan McDonagh's status up in the air, the Bruins should be selling out to try to win games now.
They failed to do that Tuesday. On one hand, Game 2 was a missed opportunity. Boston had the lead twice and had to come back just to force overtime. On the other hand, the B's would have been getting away with one had they held on and won. Tampa was better than them the whole way.
In addition to having better possession numbers in each of the four periods, Tampa out-chanced the B's and held a dramatic advantage in high danger chances (15-6). They won a ton of the matchups, and for the first time this postseason, David Krejci was thoroughly outplayed.
Brayden Point, whose line countered Krejci's, had a 77.78 on-ice Corsi percentage against Krejci in 5-on-5. That means that when Krejci was on the ice against Point, 77.78 percent (14 of 18) of the shots attempted came from Tampa.
All of Boston's defenders struggled. Their only particularly good line was Bergeron's. If the Bruins had won despite all these factors, it would have been a very lucky break. The Lightning were the better team and deserved to win.
Still, 2-0 would sound a lot sweeter for the Bruins than the situation they currently face: Coming off an overtime loss, they have to play a team that's outplayed them and should rightfully feel like the better team right now.
So, the silliest thing the Bruins could do now would be to put a 23-year-old prospect in net and hope for the best. Starting Halak doesn't guarantee a win, but it does guarantee that everyone out there will know what they've got behind them.
The Bruins need better play from most of their lineup. The last thing they need is more uncertainty, so they should start Halak.