Bruins

Jaroslav Halak is 'good value' in breaking five-game losing streak with win

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File Photo

Jaroslav Halak is 'good value' in breaking five-game losing streak with win

BOSTON – As much as anybody else, Jaroslav Halak needed to find a way to win a hockey game by any means necessary.

The Bruins backup netminder started the season as one of the hottest goalies in the league, but had lost five straight games – and dropped six of his last seven decisions – while clearly watching his performance drop over that span. It wasn’t a stand-on-his-head shutout on Sunday afternoon but Halak still stopped 35 shots and only made one understandable mistake in a 2-1 overtime win over Colorado to bust out of his losing slump.

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said it was just good to see Halak back in a winning way after his recent struggles, and perhaps that could get the Bruins back to having a two-headed monster with their goaltending situation.

“Goalies are judged by their wins and losses, right? So, you don’t have one for a while or not enough of them...again, only he can answer, but I would assume you get in your own head a little bit sometimes when you start questioning probably every goal that goes in,” said Cassidy. “Tonight he was good value for us.

“Their guy was good too. It was a pretty good goaltended game. I’m not going to say it was up and down the ice, by any means, but there were some chances out there and both guys were solid.”

Certainly Halak had some big saves with a second period stop on a Nathan MacKinnon breakaway registering as his best save. MacKinnon was also the only Avalanche player to get a puck by him when he spun off Brandon Carlo and sniped a shot top corner over Halak at the end of the first period. But that was it for Colorado getting anything by Halak, even though the Avalanche had their share of chances over the next couple of periods and overtime.

Instead, it was Halak finally getting his game in order and holding Colorado to a small number after he’d allowed three or more goals in those aforementioned six of his last seven starts. Halak wasn’t about to say that the win would act as a confidence booster, but it certainly beats the alternative.

“We’ll see, we’ll see right? You know what they say ‘you’re as good as your last game.’ You know, it feels good tonight, enjoy it and move on and get back to it tomorrow or Tuesday. Whenever I get a chance,” said Halak. “It’s nice to win a game. It had been a while.”

Now Halak will wait until his number gets called again with Tuukka Rask playing some of his best hockey of the season. But the likelihood is that Halak’s number will perhaps get called a little more quickly now that he too looks like he’s headed for another hot streak. That could mean very good things for a healthy Bruins team that is counting on quality play from each end of a goaltending tandem that might be the NHL’s best. 

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Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings

Almost three weeks remain in the regular season, and the battle for the President's Trophy is already over, with the Lightning (116 points and counting) already wrapping up home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But even though the top spot has already been clinched, the homestretch of the season features a ton of interesting battles for playoff positioning.

Although they're in the same division as Tampa, the Bruins have a chance to finish with the second-best record in hockey and square off against the Maple Leafs in the first round for a second consecutive season.

The Flames and Sharks have both clinched playoff spots already, with Calgary holding a slim three-point lead for the top seed in the Western Conference.

While those teams will look to make noise in the playoffs, many teams are fighting and clawing just to get in, with Columbus leading Montreal by one point for the eighth spot in the East, and Arizona trying to hold off Minnesota and Colorado for the eighth spot in the West.

How do all 31 teams stack up in Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings? Click here to find out.

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Five Bruins storylines to watch before 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs arrive

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USA TODAY Sports

Five Bruins storylines to watch before 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs arrive

The Boston Bruins know there's an extremely high chance they'll play the rival Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs for the second year in a row, but there's still a lot for them to figure out before the postseason begins in April.

The Bruins need a few struggling players to bust out of their slumps, the team needs to get healthier, and the scoring depth that was a major weakness in last season's playoffs needs to improve. 

Boston has nine games remaining to develop good habits and address any issues with their performance entering the playoffs. With that in mind, let's take a look at five Bruins storylines to watch before the postseason arrives.

Click for five Bruins storylines to watch before the playoffs

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