Something tells me Ken Hitchcock has the same lunch buffet every day. Why change it up? Go with the hot plate.
A week ago the St. Louis Blues bench boss said that Jake Allen was his team's top goaltender. The starter. The head honcho. The big enchilada. And a week later, the Blues have announced via town crier, the tolling of iron bells, white smoke from a chimney, a media scrum at practice and via the team's mobile app that Jake Allen in fact remains the team's starter for Game 1 Thursday night. And a nation exhaled. Probably.
If you didn't see this coming, maybe you thought the Blues were going to bring down Martin Brodeur from the press box. Rumor has it he has never filed his retirement papers with the league. So if Barret Jackman collides with Allen in a playoff game, you never know. But I digress. Brian Elliott was not going to get the nod today. Why? Tell me what changed since last week. (SPOILER ALERT: Nothing has changed)
The young Allen earned the job. Coming down the stretch when the Blues were on the verge of crapping the bed and falling behind the Blackhawk meaning they would have to start the playoffs on the road in Chicago, Allen steadied this team. The one moment that sticks out actually came during a loss.
Last Tuesday night against Winnipeg, the Blues were down a goal in the third period. The Jets forced a turnover and a breakaway came the other way. Allen aggressively came out (when hasn't he lately) and cut down the angle. He made a humongous glove save. The team responded and found another gear. The intensity ratcheted up. While they didn't win the game, Allen's teammates responded to him. It was electric.
And then Allen was in goal for the division-clinching win, his second in one week against the Hawks. I firmly believe if Hitchcock decided to go back to Brian Elliott after his win Saturday against the Wild, I think he would have run the risk of alienating his players. Coaches preach fairness. It's how they motivate scrubs to find glimpses of talent like the star players and how they motivate star players to have the fire and drive of scrubs. It would have been unfair to name Elliott the starter.
I feel sorry Elliott. I do. His entire Blues career he's had to prove himself, but his stretches of inconsistent play - usually signaled by a suspect glove hand - are maddening. Sure he was an All Star this year. But the Blues didn't feel like they could trust Elliott enough to hand him keys to the car because it's a hot rod and it's ready to drive fast.
The kid has his chance. Now is the time to prove the coaches right. Just over 31 hours to go!