Jake Allen has seen better days as a St. Louis Blue. How about Oct. 5? He was the starter coming off an amazing playoff run and he even had a personal goaltending coach. He had it all. Once upon a time, Jake was a happy snake.
The 27 year old had reset the goaltending situation, putting backup Carter Hutton in his rearview mirror and stormed out of the gate, winning seven games with a 2.45 goals against average and a 92.1 save percentage in the opening month.
In November, the GAA and save percentage reached unhealthy levels, but he reclaimed glory with a 2.24 GAA and 92.4 save percentage in December. However, the Blues were barely averaging two goals a game, and that didn’t help Allen at all. He had a bad game against Dallas on Dec. 29 and Hutton (who was already getting more reps due to a simply okay Allen stretch from Dec. 10-14) got more starts.
Allen has started only two games since the Dallas start, and he’d rather forget both of them. There was also a relief appearance at home against Arizona where he played exceptionally well, but the embarrassment of that loss overshadowed any fine attributes Allen brought to the net for 52 minutes. Three games in January is all Allen saw, while Hutton had a marvelous month, including a 1.73 GAA and 94.3 save percentage.
Tonight, Allen gets the start in net against one of the hotter teams in the NHL, the Boston Bruins, on the road. At home, the Beantown skaters are 16-6-4 and they are 7-1-2 in their last ten games. They had a ridiculous point streak snapped in their last game, which was a loss. Instead of easing Allen into the regimen like last year appearance against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Bobby Plager night during Yeo’s debut, it’s the Bruins.
This is Doug Armstrong and Yeo throwing Allen to the wolves to see what he’s got. There are a few different angles on this, so bear with me as I break each of them down. It’s like a horror novel written by Stephen King’s evil stepbrother.
Let’s look at the scenarios first.
Allen dominates! Yeo is inclined to leave the kid in last year, because hey, Doug told me to do it, and look at last spring. Hutton is cast aside again for the chosen one.
Allen flops. He allows four or five goals, and gets pulled for Hutton, who saves the day. Blues twitter burns bright while Allen sets his own fancy new padding and equipment on fire. He picks up the baseball cap and glues it onto his head and pouts while growing a patchy beard. Maybe he shaves his head. Maybe he doesn’t shave his head.
I think Armstrong wants to see where Allen is at so he can place a value on the guy heading into a trade market where, according to
legit rumors, the Blues could be active players for a goal scorer named John whose last name rhymes with Savares.
If Allen looks like pure dogshit tonight, Armstrong can sell a team friendly contract, previous years of success, and a new surrounding boost to another team in need of goaltending help. If he looks like a comeback kid again, he carries even more juice heading into the middle of February.
Yes, I think Armstrong wants to trade Jake Allen. For two years in a row, the cheaper and older yet reliable Hutton has saved the day midseason for the Blues while Allen has run into a problem with two separate head coaches.
Marty Brodeur isn’t coming down to the ice this time, Jake. You are on your own.
Here’s something interesting. Last year, around this time, Hutton didn’t play poorly enough to lose the job back to Allen. Sure, he had some bad games, but not enough to yank him. In three of his last four starts (starting on Jan. 24 and Feb. 16), Hutton recorded a shutout. He didn’t blow up or fizzle away.
More likely than not, Armstrong told Yeo that the head coaching job was his a year ago, but there was one catch: Allen was going to get a legitimate shot. Allen took it and ran away, making the suits look like geniuses.
This year is different. Hutton is doing it again. Ville Husso is doing very well in the minors. Allen may not get that shot again. His start against Boston (and possibly Buffalo) could be an audition for other teams to take notice.
I think there is something behind the Allen start tonight. Points are at a premium for the Blues, and resting a hot goalie against a great team isn’t a smart plan-unless there’s a plan. Nashville has games in hand, and the Blues-albeit winners of three straight-can’t afford to slow down too much.
This is a kick in the ass, Jake. Personally, the kid could use a change of scenery. If it’s not Hutton, it will be Husso, or someone else. Allen, as my fellow St. Louis Game Time stat mastermind Robert Tufts pointed out, is a league average goaltender. You don’t change between 27 and 28 years of age in the NHL, especially in net.
Allen is the epitome of Blues hockey. An exciting talent who shows flourishes of greatness, yet ultimately disappoints.
Have fun molding your future tonight, Allen. Blues fans are watching.
Thanks for reading and please buy more bourbon,