James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

How Halak is protecting Bruins’ net with less protection

Matt Kalman
November 02, 2018 - 5:41 pm

A .947 save percentage hasn't been the only thing impressive about goaltender Jaroslav Halak during the Bruins’ 7-3-2 start to the season.

He’s also handling the problems that have come with the smaller chest protector better than many of the rest of NHL goaltenders that have been forced to adhere to new equipment standards.

“I mean it’s one of those things ... they made it smaller, kind of took away the protection for us,” Halak explained to WEEI.com after practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday. “I mean thank god I don’t have any bruises, but I feel the pucks more than in the past. ...

“I’m sure companies are working on it to add more protection or something, so the goalies don’t get hurt.”

Halak, who doesn’t wear any extra protection (“just a shirt”) under his chest protector, believes his success despite the equipment failures is more mental than physical.

“I’m not trying to find any negatives about the chest protector or anything. I’m just trying to take it day by day and whenever I get a chance I just try to help the guys,” he said.

Halak, who will get his second straigt start and seventh start in the Bruins’ first 13 games when Boston visits Nashville on Saturday, said he takes a similar mental approach to handling the holes that have opened up around him in the smaller equipment. Some goalies are finding it more difficult to make saves on pucks shot under their arms.

“It’s like with everything, like if you start focusing on that then it’s going to go in no matter what you do. So I’m not trying to overthink anything right now,” he said.

The “Zen of Halak” has helped the goaltender fare well this season. He signed with the Bruins with the intention of taking advantage of whatever playing time he received, and he’s done just that while not worrying about when his next start will come. The way he's playing, he's going to be in more often than not, but he's chill regardless.

“I said I’m just coming here to help anyway I can and whenever I get a chance I’ll try to do my best. Like I said, day by day, I think that’s the whole thing. You don’t want to look too far ahead or look at what happened in the past, just got to live in the present,” he said.

Now 33, Halak admitted getting older has allowed him to live in the present more. And the Bruins have provided an environment for his stress-free approach to thrive.

“I mean you know we’ve got a great group of guys,” said Halak, a native of Slovakia, “and it always helps I’ve got Zee here, and Krech, Pasta, I mean it helps a lot to have someone that you can speak to in the same language.”

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