The January 10, 2015 game against the Carolina Hurricanes displayed once again why Martin Brodeur was brought on. Despite speculation as to his final destination, the short leash provided to Brian Elliott in the first period — one marked by an odd deflection and the one bad goal he gave up in the game — is evidence that Brodeur was also incorporated to provide insurance to an organization still not convinced in Elliott’s health and, arguably, his ability to deliver in the postseason.
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Coach Ken Hitchcock and GM Doug Armstrong all but anointed Brian Elliott as the starter — or at least the “1A” goaltender while recovering from the Ryan Miller debacle. Elliott sure enough took the majority of the starts to begin the season, then the injury happened. This opened the door for Jake Allen to continue to cement himself as the future starter, and gave an excuse to sign Brodeur. The fact that the invite to camp and the signing all took place in such a short time indicates that this conversation was ongoing for some time. Additionally, Brodeur’s new Blues mask arrived in about a week after his arrival to camp, another indicator that bringing Brodeur to the Blues was discussed even prior to Elliott’s injury. As usual, Elliott played admirably upon his return, until the first period of that interesting Carolina game.
After the second goal, Jake Allen was already in the hall stretching.
Brodeur is a Valuable Insurance Policy
It’s unlikely that Brian Elliott gets dealt prior to the trade deadline. Martin Brodeur hasn’t taken the starter’s job from anyone — but that’s because it never belonged to anyone to begin with. However, it remains likely that as strong as this Blues team is when healthy, and as small of an impact Brodeur’s contract has on the team, it’s smart to retain him even if he doesn’t play another game during the regular season. With Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, that of course is unlikely, but Brodeur’s experience and leadership has the ability to pay dividend irrespective of his ice time. Having a proven winner on the team if something catastrophic happens to either Elliott or Allen is prudent.
Jake Allen Hasn’t Proven Himself
This isn’t all about Brian Elliott and his proven issues with cementing himself in the minds of the Blues’ power structure. Jake Allen, while providing solid relief against Carolina and shutting the door in the shootout, was sporting an ugly .899 save percentage prior. Sure, this is Allen’s first full year in the NHL, but behind a sometimes-dominant team one might expect something in the vicinity of .910. Although at times brilliant, Allen’s inconsistency is somewhat understandable and acceptable if his role is primarily to back up Elliott. Hitchcock likes to platoon goalies, so Allen’s off nights make more of an impact. Unlike Elliott, Allen’s flaws are objectively measured, with the combination meaning a solid third option is subjectively required. No matter whether Brodeur starts Game 1 of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Note, he will be on the payroll.