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Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will be better off diving into a good Civil War novel than a video review Thursday night's messy 4-1 loss to the Canucks.
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This post was originally published at TheHockeyWriters.com
It has been a long time since Jaroslav Halak has suited up in the Bell Centre in Montreal. He will be doing it again Tuesday night.
The only difference is that this time he will be a member of the St. Louis Blues.
The Slovakian netminder has not played in Montreal since being traded to St. Louis in June of 2010. That trade came just over a month after leading the Canadiens on a miracle run in the2010 NHL playoffs. Halak, who’s contract was ending on July 1 that season, was moved instead of fellow split-starter Carey Price, much to the dismay of Canadiens fans and media.
In that playoff run, Halak posted a 2.55 GAA and a .923 save percentage in 18 games played against the Penguins, Capitals and Flyers. This included some highlight-reel saves coming against perennial goal-scorers Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green and Evgeni Malkin.
Halak, who said that he was “surprised” when traded, did not have the opportunity to play in Montreal last season.It was presumed that Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock would start Halak in Montreal, but question marks arose after goaltender Brian Elliott posted a shutout Saturday night against the Colorado Avalanche. It was believed that Hitchcock may ride “the hot-hand” after Elliott’s 15-save victory.
He was quick to abolish those thoughts in his post-game conference Saturday night.
“This is a once in a lifetime,” Hitchcock said. “[This is an] ideal situation. You want to support the shutout but I mean, come on. First time going back [to Montreal] and I think in fairness to Jaroslav, he had a heck of a time there and I think it would be dismissive of me to not recognize that.”
Halak is not the only Blues player making his return to Montreal since being traded away. Winger Matt D’Agostini will also be playing in his first game at the Bell Centre as a member of an opposing team.
D’Agostini, who was traded for prospect Aaron Palushaj on March 3, 2010, has had a complete turnaround since leaving the Canadiens organization. In 94 career games played for Montreal, D’Agostini scored just 14 goals and 11 assists.
Since joining the Blues, D’Agostini has become more than just a mucky checking forward. D’Agostini has played in 130 games, amassing 30 goals and 33 assists wearing the bluenote. He has largely been used as a scoring winger who sees time on the power-play and in any key offensive situation.
The Blues will enter the game with a three-game winning streak on the line after sweeping a three-game home-stand. Despite their winning ways at Scottrade Center, they are just 1-3-2 in their last six road games.
This will be the final game of a three-game home-stand for Montreal. They won the first two games of it but are just 3-7-0 in their last ten games.