posted on March 18, 2013 08:00
When Willam M. Jennings Trophy winners Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott went into their latest tailspin on their last road trip, Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong put in a call to the Peoria Rivermen and his message was straight and to the point.
Give me Jake Allen please.
Allen, the Blues 2008 second round draft pick, has come to the team’s rescue in the most dire of times. With Halak and Elliott struggling and the team facing a barrage of injuries, Allen has been the stabilizing force that has kept the Blues afloat in this lockout shortened 2012-’13 season.
The 22-year-old Fredericton, New Bruswick, Canada native is 8-1 on the season with one shutout, a 2.18 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage. There were some hockey people who had watched Allen in Peoria and said that he wasn’t ready for NHL competition. If you go by last year’s stats, it was a fair observation. He was 13-20-2 with a shutout, a 2.93 goals against average, and a .915 save percentage.
I don’t know if it’s a situation where the team playing in front of him wasn’t doing their job or if it was a case of the minors not being enough of a challenge for him, but whatever “it” was, Allen seems to have figured it out on the parent club.
Over the past three home games that Allen has started since the Blues returned from their disappointing 2-3 road trip, he has gone 3-0 while stopping 94 of 97 shots for a whopping .969 save percentage.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has said he is going with the hot hand and right now, you need an asbestos suit just to be in the vicinity of Allen.
The Blues will embark on a three game Canadian road trip that will see them in Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary respectively before returning home to take on the Oilers a week from tomorrow. Allen has already defeated the Canucks and Flames on the road this season, so he should he brimming with confidence.
Until he proves he can’t handle the responsibility, the Blues need to make Allen “the man” without dubbing him “the man”. As long as he continues to play the way he has, it could be a long time before Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott see their name in the starting lineup anytime in the foreseeable future. The Blues need every point they can get right now with the logjam that is the Western Conference. With Allen in the fold and key contributors slowly coming back from injury, the Blues could be priming up for a monster run come playoff time.