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Blues' Starting Goaltender Job Up In The Air... Again

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The Blues goaltender has been solid since joining the team, but has never been the clear-cut number one.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Let's just get this out here ASAP: the Blues' goaltending controversy is an annual tradition, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, only less mythical. It is a thing that exists, because it is manufactured. It's manufactured by the fans, who can find fault with either Jake Allen or Brian Elliott (just like they could with Miller and Elliott and Halak and Elliott). It's manufactured by the team with talks of "hot hands." It's manufactured by the goaltenders themselves, to a degree, though unintentionally so. A slump here, a hot streak there, and we have a controversy on our hands!

For those of us who prefer continuity and some level of decisions made on common sense, it's maddening. For once, a season where there is a clear tandem or at the very least a clear 1A/1B tandem would be a welcome sight. Competition pushes goaltenders, and it also causes them to have complexes about their jobs. Goalies are special souls.

Brian Elliott recently spoke to Lou Korac about the situation last season and in the playoffs. Elliott, being a paid professional like the rest of the team, took it in stride.

"I've been here ... this is my fifth year; it's always a competition," Elliott said. "No one's ever given anything, so in that respect, it's no difference. You're competing against yourself every day, you're competing against your teammates, Jake's trying to stop them, I'm trying to stop them. There's no difference."

[...]

Elliott was asked if there comes a point where he would want to be selfish and be that guy, be the guy.

"That's what you can control," he said. "That's your job, to go out there and to prove to everybody, your teammates and your coaches, management that you want to be the guy and you can be the guy. It's no different for anybody. If you look around the league, there's competitions for positions all over the place. It's cool to be a part of, that's for sure."

There's a reason there's a competition every year - both goaltenders are good, both have comparable regular season stats. One has more experience and has been with the Blues going in to five seasons, and this would be a reasonable contributing factor for a goalie feeling that he has earned the starter status. However, Elliott realizes that nothing is earned based on seniority, and that's something some fans should realize.

Based on pre-season play, Elliott has looked significantly sharper than Allen. If the situation changes during the season, then the Blues should make the appropriate adjustments as well, and they will. What would be beneficial would be for fans, media, and the team to not make it about anything other than winning. I took the viewpoint when Halak was here that there were multiple benefits to having a 1A/1B tandem, and I stick with that viewpoint. A controversy isn't exactly a benefit, it's a distraction. Sometimes it's one that fans create to distract from quality play, because we're Blues fans. We're not allowed to enjoy good hockey because we assume we know what lies ahead.

If there's a 1A/1B tandem, and there probably will be to start the season, roll with it. Maybe if the team can make it at least halfway through the season without some manufactured goaltending problem better things will lie in store in the future.