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© Provided by Boston Herald Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak reaches for his water bottle after allowing a goal to Pittsburgh Penguins' Jake Guentzel in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, March 10, 2019. The Penguins won 4-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney owns a mixed record in the free agency market.

High end acquisitions Matt Beleskey and David Backes were both dealt before their deals were up. On the flip side, there were some low-key success stories like Riley Nash and Joakim Nordstrom.

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But Jaroslav Halak? That signing has been an unqualified home run.

Backup goaltender was once an overlooked position, an afterthought. But teams that took that approach did so at their own peril, including the Bruins. If you look back at the two consecutive seasons the B’s missed the playoffs in the last decade, the lack of a reliable backup was a leading culprit on those two near-misses. None of the backups – not Niklas Svedberg, not Jonas Gustavsson, not Malcolm Subban – significantly pushed Tuukka Rask for playing time, instead contributing just barely adequate support in a traditional backup sense. The goaltending situation was much improved for the next two seasons with the acquisition of Anton Khudobin. But when the Bruins and Khudobin could not come to terms on a new deal two summers ago, Sweeney decided to invest even more heavily in the position.

After having allocated $1.2 million per season on a two-year deal for Khudobin, Sweeney upped the ante with a two-year deal for Halak worth $2.75 million. Halak has been more of a No. 1B instead of a traditional backup, and it could not have worked out much better for the B’s.

Download hotspot for pc windows 8everdownloads. In 71 games as a Bruin, Halak has posted a 40-17-8 record with a .921 save percentage, 2.36 goals against average and eight shutouts. The need for a quality alternative to Rask was dramatized last season when the former Vezina Trophy winner struggled badly out of the gate. This season he stepped in for a concussed Rask in January when the B’s were trying to regain their momentum and he captured wins over Pittsburgh and Vegas in a three-game stretch. He won his last seven consecutive starts before the coronavirus pause.

As good as Halak has been, the biggest bang for the B’s buck with him has been what he’s meant for the overall performance of the goaltending position. Halak’s reliable play – he’s had a couple of stinkers here and there but has been very good for the most part – has allowed Rask to play fewer than 50 games a season in both seasons.

We’ve yet to see what the reduced workload for Rask could bring in the playoffs this season – if the playoffs even happen – but it worked almost perfectly last season. As was the case with Rask’s first run to the Finals in 2013 (.940, 1.88 GAA in 22 playoff games) – which, by the way, came after a lockout-shortened season – Rask would have run away with the Conn Smythe Trophy had the B’s closed the deal in Game 7. He posted a 2.02 GAA and .934 save percentage in 24 games.

Halak never played a game in last year’s playoff run, but he deserves a lot of credit for getting Rask ready. And if Rask had faltered at all, it would have been easy to imagine coach Bruce Cassidy going with Halak for a game or more.

Now the problem for the Bruins is just how attractive Halak, a pending UFA, has made himself for the open market (whatever that may look like). He’ll be 35 on May 13, so no team will be shelling out a long-term deal for him to be its No. 1 starter. But a team could very well do significantly better than $2.75 million – or at least enough to put the squeeze on the B’s – for Halak to split the duties for a couple of years (Buffalo? Detroit? Calgary?).

It could significantly depreciate the position should Halak decide to move on. What are the alternatives? They could try and dip into their current talent pool in the pipeline, but that would not seem advisable. Daniel Vadar, a 2015 third-round pick who has endured some injury-induced zig-zagging in his development, has put together a nice stretch in Providence (14-7-1, .936, 1.79 in 25 games) but that’s not a large body of work off of which to promote a kid to the NHL. Promising prospect Kyle Keyser, limited to just eight games between Providence and Atlanta, had a lost season after suffering a concussion. University of Maine’s Jeremy Swayman looks like a blue chipper but he’ll need seasoning in the minors. Veteran Max Lagace, who’ll also be a UFA, has spent all of his career in the minors save for 17 games with the Golden Knights.

Maybe the B’s could go back into the larger UFA market. Thomas Greiss is on an expiring contract, as is Jimmy Howard. Khudobin, who has also played himself into a pay raise from his $2.5 million deal, could also be eligible for a third tour of duty in Boston.

But whoever fills Halak’s skates, should he leave, will have a tough act to follow.

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home run

n. Abbr. HRBaseball
A hit that allows the batter to make a complete circuit of the diamond and score a run.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

home run

(Baseball) baseball a hit that enables the batter to run round all four bases, usually by hitting the ball out of the playing area
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

home′ run′

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a hit in baseball allowing the batter to circle the bases and score a run.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

home run

A hit that allows the batter to get around all the bases in one turn.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited
Noun1.home run - a base hit on which the batter scores a run
base hit, safety - (baseball) the successful act of striking a baseball in such a way that the batter reaches base safely
solo blast, solo homer - a home run with no runners on base
2.home run - something that exactly succeeds in achieving its goal; 'the new advertising campaign was a bell ringer'; 'scored a bull's eye'; 'hit the mark'; 'the president's speech was a home run'
success - an attainment that is successful; 'his success in the marathon was unexpected'; 'his new play was a great success'
figure of speech, trope, image, figure - language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense

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Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
coup de circuit

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