Blues to start Jaroslav Halak

ST. LOUIS -- Jaroslav Halak gets the start for Game 1 of the Blues-Sharks first-round series, St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock announced Wednesday.

It's hardly a surprise since Brian Elliott missed practice Wednesday as he nurses a minor, upper-body injury.

"It made the decision pretty easy, so we'll start with Jaro and like everything else, hope for the best," Hitchcock said after practice Wednesday.

Game 1 goes Thursday night here at Scottrade Center.

Halak played in 46 games this season while Elliott appeared in 38 games, the two netminders combining to lead the Blues to the stingiest defensive record in the NHL.

Given his playoff experience in Montreal from two years ago where Halak was in net when the Canadiens upset Washington and Pittsburgh, most people expected Hitchcock to start the former Habs netminder in Game 1 of the playoffs even before Elliott came up with an injury.

"That happened two years ago almost, we're here right now and it's a different team, different playoffs," Halak said Wednesday, downplaying his Montreal playoff track record.
"... I mean, it was a great experience but it happened in the past. Now we're here. We'll see what happens. I'm going to try and keep it simple and play my game."

Hitchcock also downplayed Halak's playoff experience in Montreal.

"I've said this before, playoff experience is only good if you use it and you're good at it," said the Blues coach. "I've seen lots of guys have playoff experience and no success. So to me, I can't tell you that until we're finished in the playoffs."

Hitchcock was hopeful Elliott could still be ready to dress as the backup Thursday although he wasn't 100 percent sure of that. Goalie Jake Allen was called up from the AHL Tuesday and took part in Wednesday's practice.