If there’s one way to stoke a goalie controversy among Blues fans, it’s by not naming a starter. Mike Yeo isn’t saying who is starting tomorrow night’s game against the Ottawa Senators. as Yeo told the Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas:
“I don’t know that we have a real firm plan in mind,” Yeo said. “Obviously, we want to get Jake back in here very quickly. Maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s not. I’m not sure. Hutts has been playing really well. So it’s a bit of a unique situation. I think we just have to approach it day-by-day right now.”
Yeo isn’t playing it coy because he likes to watch Blues fans squirm and debate and make snide comments on Twitter at “supporters” of the other goalie. Yeo’s saying this because it’s good coaching. Going “yeah, we’re team Hutton regardless of Saturday’s game” sucks Jake Allen’s morale right down the toilet. Goalies are supposed to be consummate professionals, but even consummate professionals have pride. That’d be a ding to it.
Besides, it’s a coach’s duty to make decisions that are best for their team. Hutton has, since about mid-December, been a better option in net than Allen. Saturday’s shellacking aside (the entire team just played God-awfully bad, let’s admit that), Hutton has been the hot hand. Did Saturday end that? Who knows. But it’s not Yeo’s responsibility to name a permanent starter. It’s not his responsibility to make game-day decisions until the afternoon of a game. What is his responsibility is balancing the egos and personalities on his team in a way that isn’t detrimental to the Blues’ success. Allen hasn’t shown himself to be particularly resilient during a down stretch in the past, but he’s also shown that he’s capable of pulling himself out of it with some support. Support might not be coming in the way of starts, but it is coming in the way of not being thrown under the bus.
What form that support will take in the future depends on Allen’s performance when the reigns are given to him.