Allen Again the Man for the Blues
By Patrick Hoffman
There is no doubt that last season, the St. Louis Blues were good enough to make the playoffs.
The team has a solid offensive core, a great back end, solid special teams, and a great coach in Mike Yeo. Normally, these kinds of things can get a team into the postseason.
The one missing ingredient last season was consistent goaltending from their supposed starter Jake Allen. Things got so bad for Allen, 27, last season that Yeo was forced to go with back-up Carter Hutton, who played extremely well last year, for an extended period of time.
Hutton, 32, was a great safety blanket or the Blues. When he was put between the pipes last season, he had a lot of success, made a lot of big saves, and ended up being the club's most consistent masked man last year.
What's unfortunate for the Blues is Hutton is now a netminder for the Buffalo Sabres as he inked a three-year deal worth $2.75 million a season. It's great that Hutton is going to get a chance to be the main man in net, but it's now a difficult situation for the Blues.
Two years ago, the Blues signed Allen to a four-year, $17.4 million contract extension. At the time, this seemed like the right move as the team allowed former starting goaltender Brian Elliott to move on to the Calgary Flames.
As it turns out, the move hasn't worked as planned for Allen or the Blues. While his numbers aren't terrible, it is his consistency that is a concern for the Blues.
With Allen last year, the Blues got lucky in the early going and jumped out of the gate with a hot start despite Allen's poor play. When the Blues started slumping, Allen slumped with them and never seemed to help his team get back on track and stay in thick of the playoff race in the West.
Sure, Allen played well at the end of the season, but it was too late as the team failed to make the postseason for the first time in six years. Allen's poor play through parts of the season put this team in holes that they could not climb out of.
With Hutton out of the picture, all the pressure will be on Allen to not only become a true consistent goaltender, but to get this team back into the playoffs. This franchise has never won a Cup and their fans are dying for one.
Allen has two years left on his contract before he becomes a UFA. One has to wonder if the Blues are going to see this through or if they will make a trade at some point.
Right now, all signs point to Allen. If you watched the Blues often enough last season, you could see this was the case as the club seemed to go to him time and time again to show that he was their guy.
It's now put up or shutup time for Allen. He needs to show the organization that they made the right decision in making him their main man between the pipes for for the future.
If Allen gets off to a slow start this year, things could get ugly quickly for the Blues.
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.