With preseason games completely cancelled and the NHL lockout in full swing, hockey fans are distraught. The threat of a season-long lockout is a very real fear. But, I would like to look on the positive.
One positive is that when the NHL does resume, the St. Louis Blues will welcome back the best goaltending tandem in the NHL.
Jaroslav Halak has not been a stranger to the spotlight. Halak and Carey Price dueled for the starting job of the Montreal Canadiens for all of the 2009-2010 season. Paired with strong play in the Vancouver Olympics and the inconsistent play of Price down the stretch, Halak was awarded the starting job for the playoffs. He backstopped the Canadiens to consecutive upsets over the top-seeded Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
At the start of the 2011-2012 season, after a trade to the Blues and a year of mediocre play, Halak was primed for a breakout season. But after a rocky start, a no-name goalie stole the show from him.
Brian Elliott came into the NHL and played for the Ottawa Senators. He showed a lot of promise, being named "Goaltender of the Month" for December of 2008. He would play three seasons with the Senators but was also mediocre. He was traded to the Avalanche at the 2011 trade deadline, finishing with two wins in his final 12 starts.
Elliott signed with the Blues and completely flipped his career around.
Halak start out the season with one win in five starts. The Blues decided to start Brian Elliott to give Halak a break and he reaped the benefits. Elliott played his first game with the Blues against the San Jose Sharks, and made highlight save after highlight save. Elliott went on to win four of his first five games, and gave Halak a reason to be worried about his starting job.
But the fireworks started when Ken Hitchcock was named head coach.
Elliott and Halak, fueled by the defensive surge Hitchcock brought, became the best tandem in the NHL. Over the course of the season, Halak and Elliott combined for a 1.89 GAA average. They faced the least amount of shots in the NHL thanks to their stellar defense that was 17th in blocked shots.
But what makes them the best tandem in the NHL is the fact they split time and competed for the starting job all season.
When teams say they have the best tandem, normally it means they have a great starting goaltender and a good back-up, one that can take over and still win some games while the starter is hurt or resting.
But not Halak and Elliot.
They played equal time, and were able to put up the best numbers in the NHL. Both put up numbers that a starter should be proud of and could have been a starter on the majority of teams.
Halak and Elliot hands down are the best goaltending tandem in the NHL. They competed all season for the starting job, pushing each other to be the best they could be, and they were. When the NHL season starts back up, Halak and Elliott will steal the show again.