Now that October is in the books it looks like Ken Hitchcock and the St. Louis Blues may have indeed decided on a true number one starting goaltender and it should come as no surprise that it’s Jake Allen. After being named as the league’s number two star of the week to close out last month Allen has now started six straight games in net and is 6-3 on the season with a minuscule 1.71 GAA and a gaudy .945 SV% including a career game Saturday night as he shut out the Nashville Predators with 45 saves.
It might be said Allen’s hot streak has come at the expense of his fellow Blues goalie, Brian Elliott. Elliott played extremely well to start off the season in winning his first four starts but has succumbed to both injury and illness already this year which has opened the door even wider for Allen. Elliott’s unfortunate start in Chicago this past Wednesday (4 goals on 15 shots in just over 17 minutes) was marred by poor first period play overall by St. Louis, but Allen came in and shut down the Blackhawks in what was eventually a comeback win for the ages. The fact that the game was the team’s second in two nights may have been the only reason Elliott started in the first place considering how hot Allen has been.
This is not the first time we’ve seen Allen come in to take over starting duties in goal for St. Louis because of injuries. He started in relief 13 times in 2012-13 (9-4/2.46/.905) tantalizing fans with saves like this one versus T.J. Brodie of the Calgary Flames, considered by many to be the save of the year that season:
Allen was unknown to most in the NHL outside St. Louis at the time. He would spend a full season as the number one starting goalie for St. Louis’ AHL affiliate in Chicago for the 2013-14 season, leading the Wolves to the playoffs and being named goalie of the year. Moving up to the big club for good last year, he had a chance to take charge and lead the Blues when Elliott went down for an extended time. Allen made 32 starts in 2014-15 and while he was outstanding (22-7-4/2.28/.913) he didn’t quite show the consistency during the regular season Hitchcock wanted to earn him the “Number One” moniker.
During that 2014-15 season, Allen displayed flashes of the brilliance we’ve seen this year. Four shutouts, including back-to-back blankings of the Ducks and Devils, gave fans and the organization a glimpse of just how good he could be. When Elliott continued to struggle with injuries deep into the Spring, Allen finished by winning 4 of his last 5 starts in April and the club tagged the youngster as the starter for the playoffs.
We all know Allen wasn’t able to backstop St. Louis to a playoff series win last year but he’s been labeled as the goalie of the future for the Blues and the future is now. Allen’s new label is number one starter. His stellar play hasn’t sneaked up on anyone who has been following the netminder since joining the Blues as a second round draft pick in 2008.