Jake Allen. The answer in net or just passing by?
How long has it been since the St. Louis Blues had a legit long term goaltender between their pipes? Sorry, Jaroslav Halak doesn't count. He did his best, but his body was too brittle to withstand the rigors of an 82 game season in St. Louis and he came here in a trade. His greatest moment came in Montreal. Manny Legace was a good story and Roman Turek was solid until...yeah let's not talk about that one time at Blues playoff band camp.
When I think of long term successes in net in my lifetime, Curtis Joseph comes to mind. Yeah, The undrafted Cujo. He looked like Joey Lawrence after the glory days. He won 137 games as a Blue over six seasons. All before fucktard Mike Keenan traded him Philadelphia for Shayne Corson and Marty Reasoner. After that, it's Grant Fuhr, who won 108 games. Mike Liut finished his stint when I was three, racking up 151 wins. For me, it's Joseph. Is Allen the next long term answer? I think so.
Like Cujo, Allen is a homegrown product, dominating the AHL ranks before making a quick emergency pit stop nearly three years ago(saving Brian Elliott's slumping ass when Halak went down) and appearing again last season for Elliott and starting all six games in the playoffs. If it wasn't his team then, it is now. Allen has played in 27 games this season, tying the league lead in shutouts(5) and posting a stingy 2.08 GAA and .928 save percentage. After an Elliott beginning in October, it was quickly Allen time, especially when the elder Moose went down with an injury.
Allen made his presence known last year, winning 22 games while posting a .913 save percentage in over 2,000 minutes of ice time with four shutouts. The kid has played in 79 career games and already has ten shutouts. I won't consult the San Diego news desk but that is big deal territory. That doesn't come just because your team plays good defense. You earn those zeroes by making a few wow stops and not allowing anything soft to slip by. Allen plays with a little flair, a confidence that can be recognized on a television screen when you see him throw the team on his shoulders for a few periods.
He got a lot of flack for the playoffs last year but overall, he posted a 2.20 goals against and a .904 percentage. If the Blues could muster more than two goals per game, Allen's playoff rep may be a little brighter. Going into this season, the job wasn't exactly his. Elliott was the man heading into the season, but quickly lost control of that mantle when he got hurt and missed work. Since then, let's call it late October, Allen has posted save percentages of .920 or more in nine different games. He's made 30 or more saves in ten games. I consider 30 a solid night of "giving zero fucks about the opposing team's fantasy stats". Allen hasn't exactly not earned the right to stay in net.
Does this mean Elliott has little value? No. If Allen gets hurt, Ells flies in. If Allen has a rough patch, Ells flies in three games later. He isn't trade bait or in threat of losing his job. He's just not as good Allen, and that has become abundantly clear the past two months. Since a 45 save effort on November 7th in Nashville, this has been Allen's team. It will be his team next year and the year after that.
Will Allen be the next Cujo? No. He will be better. Sure, the game has changed a bit in the last 20 years, but goalies still make up the backbone of a championship run. You rarely see teams with goaltending duos win the Cup. Allen solidifying his place in net isn't just good for the Blues. It's fucking great. One less thing to worry about. The Blues just need to score more goals. 2.5 goals per game won't lose your mind, but it's not shoutout worthy just yet.
The 2015-16 St. Louis Blues season may look like The Godfather II in the standings to the casual fans, but the hardcore hockey fans who see everything in between the lines know it has involved more Godfather 3 since the middle of November. For the people who have never seen those movies, go bang your fucking head on the wall. One of the true spots has been the emergence of Allen in net.
Elliott could use some more work, but when you see the kind of game Jake put together in Boston on Tuesday, maybe the one thing Hitch knows what he is doing is located between the pipes.