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There Will Be No Repeat Halaking

Halak me once, shame on you, Halak me twice...

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It's time to talk about something, Caps fans. It's time to talk about the thing that still occasionally jerks you upright, cold sweat, in the middle of the night. It's time to talk about the thing that's seen you grind a couple millimeters off your molars, just from passing references.

It's time to talk about Jaroslav Halak.

As blissful as it's been to selectively not remember Halak's dominance of the Capitals back in Round 1 in April 2010, it's hard to keep those memories at bay, with Halak starting in net for the New York Islanders tonight.

But first, let's bite the bullet. Rip the bandaid off.  Refresh your memory. Whatever. Here are the numbers; Halak's '09-10 playoffs abuse of the Capitals quantified.

Sv % SH Sv % 5v5 Sv % SA60 Low Danger Sv % Med Danger Save % High Danger Save %
0.939 1 0.922 40.51 0.967 0.969 0.878

A .939 save percentage is ridiculous by itself. What's even more ridiculous is the 100% save percentage that Halak made short handed in that series. And it's not like the opportunities were few a far between— he made 48 saves on 48 shots, in over 40 minutes of shorthanded time, against the best power play in the league by a longshot. I'm getting angry just thinking about it. Maybe writing this wasn't the best idea...

So where did this come from? Halak was certainly good in '09-10— he started 43 games for the Montreal Canadiens, and his .924 save percentage was good enough for fourth in the league. His .936 save percentage at 5v5 was good for third in the NHL. Shorthanded, Halak's .891 save percentage was nothing to shake a stick at— 9th in the NHL— but certainly more pedestrian than the rest of his numbers that year.

But nothing in those numbers suggested that Halak was capable of doing what he did versus the Capitals— the dude's overall save percentage against the Caps in the playoffs was better than his regular season even strength save percentage.

And in fact, once his trouncing of Alex Ovechkin and company was complete, Jaroslav Halak returned to his regular season level of play; good, but not harrowingly dominant.

Sv % SH Sv % 5v5 Sv % SA60 Low Danger Sv % Med Danger Save % High Danger Save %
09-'10 After Caps Series 0.912 0.796 0.939 29.57 0.952 0.943 0.823
Regular Season 0.924 0.891 0.936 31.64 0.975 0.943 0.833

Halak got hot. That's all there is to it. It was a freakish series for Halak— the absolute best goaltending of his career. The Montreal Canadiens were one of the worst shot suppression teams in the League that year, and Halak got absolutely peppered— a total comfort— and he thrived.

Alright, that was painful. Randomness can be a miserable mistress.

Now, let's take a look at why Halak won't repeat his, frankly, unrepeatable performance from April 2010.

Quite simply, Jaro isn't stopping pucks with the efficiency that he did back in 2009-2010, or even two years later in St. Louis (literally every measurable except for high danger save percentage, which is inclined to flux due to smaller samples— situational, adjusted, and overall— shows as much). And he doesn't need to, because the Isles provide more offense than those Habs, and yield fewer shots than those Habs.

Jaroslav Halak may well be victorious when the dust settles in this one, but in a series rife with potential so-called "x-factors", you can objectively put Jaroslav Halak and his mediocre season far down the list...with the caveat that he's a goalie, and as we too well know, these jerks can catch fire without rhyme or reason.