First and foremost, this is not an article discounting what Brian Elliott has done for the St. Louis Blues this postseason. He has been fantastic, and is probably one of (if not the) best goaltender of the playoffs. The Blues climbed to second in the Western Conference on the backs of both their goalies, Allen in the first half, and Elliott in the latter half. Allen saw his first taste of the playoffs in Game 6 versus the Dallas Stars.
Young at Heart, Full of Experience
Allen saw his first taste of the 2016 playoffs in Game 6 versus the Dallas Stars. He made a few tough saves, but for the most part, he was untested as the Stars only fired seven shots on net in 41:24. That’s far from a large postseason sample size, though it’s not his “second season” experience that could make a difference in Game 7 in Dallas.
No. 34 faced the Stars three times during the regular season, winning all three, including a 26-save shutout back on Dec. 12. While much has changed since then, his teammates and the approach the coaching staff has taken is largely unchanged. This could bode well for the young netminder.
He’s Got it Handled
A huge asset Allen possesses is his ability to handle the puck outside of the crease. In his limited time versus the Stars in Game 6, he had two chances in particular that were read perfectly, mitigating a Dallas scoring opportunity. Elliott isn’t bad with his puck-handling skills but his fellow Blues netminder is much better.
The speed of Dallas can be slowed with the presence of a solid puck-handling goaltender. They need to change their approach into the offensive zone; a dump-and-chase mentality won’t work the way it’s drawn up.
Allen has shown incredible glimpses of play in his last three seasons with the Blues. His poise in net is one rarely found in a goaltender of his age and experience. The players in front of the blue paint have confidence in both goalies, but as a change in net can give a boost to the Blues in Game 6, the same can be said for a new starter in Game 7.
St. Louis has rolled with both netminders since Allen became a regular in the NHL. It’s hard to ignore his talent. The coaching staff has a tough decision to make — one that will not be taken lightly.
Hitchcock: “This isn’t a reflection on Brian (Elliott). Guy’s had a hell of a March, hell of an April and hell of a May.” #stlblues
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 10, 2016
“Jake the Snake”
Dallas has done their homework. In Game 6 it was obvious that their tapes and stats showed up high is the way to go against the hot ‘tender, Elliott. That’s not to say they won’t have their work done on Allen, because they will, but a change in strategy on one end will need to be countered on the other.
Allen suffered two injuries during the season, but he posted a solid .920 save percentage and a 2.35 goals-against average with six shutouts in 47 games. The Blues will not bail on Elliott, and it will not discount the amazing play he has given the team. Allen could be the guy even if it’s only for one game. Many successful playoff teams have ran with two goalies, or just the one that’s hot at the time (currently, Pittsburgh), so why not the Blues?