Is there a Goaltending Controversy in St. Louis?
By Patrick Hoffman
Coming down the stretch of the 2017-18 NHL regular season, goaltending is going to be paramount.
With goal scoring way up in the league, goaltenders are going to need to be better than ever to help their respective clubs. The masked men will need to do everything they possibly can to either get into the playoffs or at least stay afloat to give themselves a fighting chance to get into the postseason dance.
This is why the goaltending situation in St. Louis will be worth watching. As of this writing (January 30, 2018), the Blues have a three point lead over the Dallas Stars for the third spot in the extremely competitive Central Division.
After struggling for a bit, the Blues have slowly started to find their game again. With that said, however, they have not been doing it with their supposed starter, Jake Allen, between the pipes.
Rather, the team has been picking up points thanks to the play of their back-up Carter Hutton. In fact, it can easily be said that Hutton is doing just about everything he can to take the No.1 job from Allen.
In 21 games this season (as of January 30, 2018), Hutton is 12-4-1 with a 1.74 goals against average, a .943 save percentage and two shutouts.
In the games he has played this season, Hutton has been extremely steady. He's been there for his team to wipe out the mistakes, does a good job of handling the puck, and more often than not, comes out of the game with the win.
Allen, on the other hand, has been very inconsistent this season. Sure, his numbers are somewhat respectable (18-4-2 with a 2.74 goals against average, a .909 save percentage, and one shutout), but his play has clearly falling off.
If you are a Blues fan, than you know that this is a familiar story. Allen was dreadful for the better part of the first half last season before turning it on down the stretch and playing extremely well in helping his team knock out the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs.
If you are team head coach Mike Yeo, you are hoping that this happens again. The Blues are paying Allen to be their starting goaltender and when he is on his game, he is one of the best goaltenders in the game.
At the same time, however, Yeo has to ride the hot hand. Hutton may be your back-up goaltender, but right now, he is helping your team win hockey games and keeping them very much involved in the conversation in terms of winning the Central Division.
One way or another, the goaltending situation will end up being solved. With that said, it will be interesting to see which goalie ends up getting the job done for this hockey club.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.