Halak has stopped 275 of the 289 s

(Sports Network) - Its no surprise that the New York Yankees are back in the postseason for the 16th time in the last 17 years. Chris Doleman Jersey . However, it is a surprise that the Yankees not only won their 12th American League East title in that span, but that they enter this years playoffs with more wins than any team in the American League at 97. Their quest for an unprecedented 28th World Series title begins on Friday when they open the best-of-five American League Division Series against the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. New York, which lost in six games to the Texas Rangers in last years ALCS, is of course led by its terrific lineup, but does have some major question marks surrounding its starting rotation behind staff ace and Game 1 starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia fell a win short of becoming the first Yankees starter to post back-to-back 20-win seasons since Tommy John back in 1979-80, but ended the year 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA. "When Im right," Sabathia has said, "I can beat anybody." Sabathia is no stranger to the Tigers, having faced them 32 times over the course of his career and posting a 15-12 mark to go along with a 4.54 ERA. There are no questions however surrounding the Tigers staff, which is led by AL CY Young favorite Justin Verlander, who is vying to become the leagues first pitcher to take home MVP honors since Roger Clemens in 1986. Verlander put forth one of the best years ever by a Tigers starter and won the leagues pitching Triple Crown, going 24-5 with a 2.40 earned run average and 250 strikeouts. "I understand the numbers, how they worked out and where they stand," Verlander said. "But at the same time, theres so much other stuff going on, theres not really a chance to sit back and let it soak in. Once the last pitch is thrown, hopefully after we have won a World Series, I can sit down, look back at it and enjoy it. For right now, Im focused on Game 1." Verlander finished the year strong, winning 12 straight starts before earning a no-decision in his final outing on Friday. The hard-throwing righty, though, earned two no-decisions against the Yankees this season and is a mere 4-3 lifetime against them with a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts. The Yanks are also the only team that Verlander faced twice and did not beat. "Hopefully its a good one," Sabathia said. "Weve faced off a lot, me playing in that [Central] division for a long time. Hes had one of the best seasons for a pitcher ever, I think. And its going to be tough. So we just have to wait and see what happens." Thanks to Verlanders terrific season the Tigers won their first-ever American League Central title, while claiming their first division crown since winning the 1987 AL East. They ended the year 95-67 and are back in the postseason for the first time since winning the American League pennant back in Verlanders rookie season of 2006. That remarkable run, of course, started with a four-game series win over the Yankees in the only other previous postseason matchup between the two. The Tigers also took four of seven from the Yanks during this season after the two teams split the eight-game season series a year ago. John Randle Jersey .Y., Kevin Shattenkirk watched Rangers defenceman Brian Leetch score many big goals. Jeff Locke Vikings Jersey . Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.OTTAWA - Maybe Jaroslav Halak just needed to feel wanted.First the goaltender was second fiddle to Carey Price in Montreal then got pushed out in St. Louis for Ryan Miller. Nothing more than a rental in Washington, Halak last June heard from a team that wanted to turn the reins over to him and invest in him for the long term.Now the New York Islanders are atop the Metropolitan Division, riding the wave of Halaks all-star-calibre play during his franchise record 11-game winning streak.This team showed interest in me and interest in signing me, Halak said. Interest was on both sides, and Im glad it worked out well.It has worked out for the first-place Islanders because general manager Garth Snow was willing to trade a fourth-round pick for Halaks rights two weeks after the regular season ended and even more willing to give him a long-term contract. Halak did his homework on the Islanders, talking to current and former players, and ultimately signed a US$18-million, four-year deal.The season is only 26 games old, but so far that looks like a bargain. At 14-4-0 with a 2.05 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, the former Canadien has stabilized the goaltending position that has gone through so much recent change and fits of inconsistency.Since Ive been here, weve gone through a lot of goalies, and theyve been quality goaltenders, coach Jack Capuano said. But to know that we have a couple guys now back there and hopefully we can stay healthy, its been a big plus for our hockey club.Capuano is referencing backup Chad Johnson, too, but the onus really has been on Halak to shoulder the load for New York. The way the schedule sets up — the Islanders only have one back-to-back for the next month — the fifth-year head coach cant help but want to keep putting Halak on the ice.On Thursday night, the 29-year-old Slovak beat the Ottawa Senators to break Billy Smiths franchise record of consecutive victories with his 11th.Its great to see him break the record and he deserves it, Capuano said. Hes working real hard and hes enjoying himself between the pipes right now.Halak has an intense demeanour on the ice, something captain John Tavares notices when Cal Clutterbuck shoots high on him early in practice. Halak doesnt take too kindly to that.I think you can just tell by his facial expressions, Tavares said.Maybe Halak doesnt smile too much, but hes loving life with the Islanders, who are a world away from where they were a year ago. Back then they were losers of 10 in a row during a season in which they didnt get great goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov, Anders Nilsson or Kevin Poulin.These Islanders underwent significant off-season changes. Snow signed former Maple Leafs forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, then a few days before opening night traded for defencemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy. Matt Kalil Jersey. Quite simply, this is a better team all over the ice.We just play a good poised game, and we have a lot of depth, so were able to come at teams with every line and all our D, Tavares said. We just want to put teams on their heels. We want to play with the puck, obviously. I think the more energy youve got to spend to try to get it back, I think it makes it tough for the other team to generate offence, generate opportunities.Tavares pointed out theres no panic in Halaks game and likewise no panic on the bench or in the locker-room in difficult situations, unlike last season. Theres little doubt the Islanders feed off their No. 1 goaltender.Everyone sort of plays like Jaro a bit, defenceman Thomas Hickey said. Hes quiet in the net and I think it rubs off on us. ... When any goalie’s playing on their game it makes it really easy on the team.Things havent exactly been easy lately, even as the Islanders have been on a roll. Just four of their past nine victories have come in regulation.That speaks to some strong play in close games but also to New Yorks slim margin for error. Halak plays a part in that because hes not prone to giving up soft goals.He makes every save he should, Hickey said. You dont see him making the 10-bell save because hes always in position, he doesnt need to.During this winning streak, which will be on the line Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, Halak has stopped 275 of the 289 shots he has faced (.952 save percentage) and put up a 1.24 GAA.Capuano said Halak was dialed in. Some athletes feel momentum building, but not this one.I dont think about it, Halak said. I go game-by-game. Im always trying to focus on the game thats ahead of me. Whatever happened in the past, happened in the past. Thats great. But back to work tomorrow.Halaks work never stops. Earlier in the season Capuano and goaltending coach Mike Dunham talked to Halak about managing his emotions, and he has done that.I just thought mentally he was a little frustrated, and right now hes in a good place, Capuano said. Hes got high expectations of himself, which is good. Thats what you want.Its no different than a quarterback or different than a starting pitcher. Youre the last line of defence back there. I like the fact that he puts that pressure on himself, but how he channelled in a different way.Halak isnt out of control. In fact, Tavares called him pretty calm.The Islanders have followed that lead.The consistency he brings in his game and the calmness he brings, of course we feed off that, Tavares said. He does such a good job of not giving up second, third chances and swallowing pucks and pushing them off to the side. Both the skaters and the goalie feed off one another, and hes been great for us.---Follow @SWhyno on Twitter Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys ' ' '