Conklin Needs to Improve
Heading into the season, the Blues were believed to have one of the best goalie tandems in the league through the likes of Jaroslav Halak and Ty Conklin. Halak has performed fairly well, maintaining a 2.49 GAA through the 34 games he has appeared in. Conklin on the other hand has struggled, posting a 3.35 GAA through his 11 appearances. Clearly, Conklin needs to have a better second half of the season.
Currently, Conklin is only slightly behind his pace of appearances from last season when he played in 26 games, starting 21 of those contests. Over that time, Conklin managed to keep a pretty tidy 2.48 GAA and a .921 save percentage. These are the types of numbers the club was expecting now that Halak is in town.
To be fair, Conklin’s numbers look a lot worse than they actually are thanks to two games where he allowed a total of 14 goals – November 30th against Chicago and January 12th against Anaheim. If you toss these games out and chalk them up as flukes, Conklin’s numbers are much closer to his career averages.
Still, those are games that can’t be ignored. He has imploded twice this season.
If this isn’t a cliche, it probably should be: a starting goaltender is only as good as his backup. (OK, maybe it’s a stretch of the truth, but it works here).
Halak has had his share of brilliant moments this season. He also has had stretches where he appears unfocused and almost lackadaisical between the pipes. These are the times that Conklin should be ready to step in, give the main man a night off, while maintaining as much of the team’s confidence as possible.
You can imagine how it might damage a team’s psyche when their backup steps in and allows seven goals.
This analysis may not be completely fair to Conklin as he has played well during stretches this season. He had similar blowups last season, but those don’t stick out as much as they were of the five goal variety as opposed to seven.
Either way, the team needs to have confidence in their backup. When the starter needs a game off, the backup needs to come in and make it seem like the starter never left. Conklin is usually very, very good at this and is often heralded as being one of the best number two netminders in the league.
Conklin needs to find this form again if the Blues hope to have a successful second half.