The Blues are a new-look team for next season with the addition of Patrick Maroon, Tyler Bozak, and Ryan O’Reilly. They should have more offensive pop and actual scoring potential on the power play.
On the back-end, they’re basically unchanged save for the addition of Chad Johnson as Jake Allen’s backup. Jake Allen, as he has shown over the past several seasons, requires a quality backup goaltender to bail the team out.
The Hockey News has Allen pegged as a rebound goaltender for next season for two reasons: he’s better than how he performed last year (he probably is because last season was not a good performance) and the penalty kill wasn’t as good last season as it was the year before:
More than that, though, it’s the fact that his biggest downfall came not at even strength but on the penalty kill. His .834 SP with the Blues shorthanded was 30 points worse than his previous career low. So, despite actually posting a better even strength SP than the year prior, Allen’s overall numbers suffered. With a stronger kill in front of him, Allen should be much improved.
The Blues’s PK suffered between 2016-2017 and 2017-2018, going from 3rd overall with 84.8 effectiveness to 18th overall with a 79.9% effectiveness. The Blues special teams last year were horrendous. The lack of quality on the PK dinged Allen’s stats, but you do have to take a step back and examine if Jake’s numbers down specifically because of the PK? Was the PK down because Allen’s performance was sub par?
It stands to reason that if the PK is fixed next season, then yes, Allen will have overall better stats. But Allen’s problem is deeper than that, and his statistics bear that out.
Jake has not been good for long stretches of play for the past several seasons, usually around the same spot on the calendar. Here, witness his monthly stats from last season (via ESPN.com):
And then season before last:
And then the season before that one:
There’s a very clear pattern here. Allen won’t be able to fully bounce back until he figures out what is going on with him during January and February of every season (or December-January in 2016-2017 just to mix things up). Be it fatigue, slippage in technique and fundamentals, or just the pressures of a backup goalie who’s playing his ass off, the team needs to get Jake through the winter doldrums if they want for him to fulfill THN’s predictions.