Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Jaroslav Halak: 2 Autographed Cards

There are so many hockey stories to start the week (Scott Gomez signing in New Jersey, Daniel Brière scoring against the Habs, the players Team Canada chose to invite to its camp for the World Juniors) that I almost didn't know where to start, and who to feature.

Of course, getting a surprise in the mail that wasn't even a return (just a straight-up ''free'' gift) kind of supersedes any other story, particularly when it's from one's favourite goalie... who was just named the first star of the week. Of course, I'm referring to the New York Islanders' winner of nine straight games, Jaroslav Halak.

Per NHL.com:
Halak posted a 3-0-0 record with a 0.95 goals-against average, .964 save percentage and one shutout to help the Islanders (17-7-0, 34 points) win three of four starts and complete their best November in 34 years. (...) Halak extended his personal winning streak to a career-long nine games (1.18 GAA, .956 SV%, 3 SO); only Billy Smith has posted a longer such streak in Islanders history (Jan. 23 – Feb. 25, 1982: 10-0-0). The 29-year-old Bratislava, Slovakia, native is 12-4-0 in 16 appearances this season, ranking in the top 10 in the NHL in wins, goals-against average (2.13), save percentage (.926) and shutouts (3).
I talked a lot about Halak's recent stats back in July, but I want to point out that apart from the lockout-shortened season in which he only played 16 games due to injury and had a sub-par GAA of .899, this year's numbers are consistent with what he's always provided during the regular season:
GAAs in the low 2s, save percentages in the .920s, usually tremendous under pressure (long runs with teams looking to secure playoff spots). And that's saying nothing of his Conn Smythe-caliber playoff run in 2010 on a team that didn't believe in him and almost refused to let him play.

Speaking of which, here he is wearing the Montréal Canadiens' white uniform, from Panini's 2010-11 Score set (card #7 of the Playoff Heroes sub-set):
And one of him with the St. Louis Blues' blue (away) uniform from the beginning of the Reebok era, from Upper Deck's 2012-13 SP Authentic set (#4 in the collection):
Both cards came in on December 1st, 2014, signed in (fading) black sharpie, with his jersey number tagged at the end. I'm particularly happy about them because now that he's an Islander, I don't expect him to receive his mail anymore, meaning the only way to get his autograph now will be in person.

In my playing days, I also wore Brian's equipment, mostly (though I had a Vaughn blocker and Victoriaville stick, the rest was all Brian's); therefore, I commend Halak's taste in protection, which usually looks as good as it protects.

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