Blues rule out G Halak for 2 games
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The talk of the St. Louis Blues locker room was this tongue-in-cheek prediction of a final score for the opener of their second-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings: Zero to minus-1.
Goals would seem to be at a premium for the teams after their opening round wins, and the Blues are confident they've got a goalie that's just as stingy as Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick. Two of them, in fact.
Jaroslav Halak was ruled out Monday for the first two games with an undisclosed injury but that's no big deal for Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. Brian Elliott emerged as a star this season, even though it was in a job share with Halak, and he shut down the San Jose Sharks as the Blues needed just five games to win their first playoff series in a decade.
Elliott stopped 98 of 103 shots against the Sharks, a strong follow-up after leading the NHL with a 1.56 goals-against average with nine shutouts in the regular season. Elliott was the Blues' lone All-Star and he's been money for Hitchcock for a long time.
"I don't know why it's a surprise when your body of work the whole year, you look the same every night," Hitchcock said. "I think we're lucky we've got a guy like him."
The coach also thought he'd get the same high level from Elliott in Game 1 against the Kings even if he hadn't played in the first round.
"More work, less work — I don't want to say it's a holiday, but when you're only playing three games a week and you're playing against the same opponent, you get in a rhythm," Hitchcock said. "He's been good for such a long time we just expect it."
Halak has an undisclosed lower-body injury that is believed to be a sprained left ankle sustained in a collision with teammate Barret Jackman in Game 2 against the Sharks. He appeared to be walking fine leaving the locker room after the first-round clincher but was not at practice Monday.
Hitchcock had little to say about Halak's progress, aside from the fact there had not been a setback.
"Jaro's not going to be around for the first two games, and then we'll see from there," Hitchcock said.
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