Last year's NHL Playoffs saw Jaroslav Halak establish himself as a household name at goalie just in time to cause a whirl of giddy St. Louis Blues fan expectations when he arrived in America in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens. After a white-hot start to the season, the Blues fell apart and Halak fell, first out of the news and then out of the games altogether, struggling to return from a hand injury. As the P-D reports, he's been back a month now, and though the Blues' season is just about over, he's been stellar, allowing 2.14 goals against per game since returning.
Halak is versed enough in athlete-speak to shrink back from the questions about his recent improvement, suggesting that it has a lot to do with the way the new-look Blues congealed while he was gone. But in 2012 all those improvements will be for nothing—no matter how awesome Chris Stewart is, and he's admittedly pretty awesome—if the Blues don't get the Jaroslav Halak fans remember from the playoffs just a year ago.