After an injury to starting goaltender Brian Elliott, it’s Jake Allen’s time to step up for the St. Louis Blues.
The injury to Elliott, which has only been specified as a lower body injury that will keep him out of the lineup on a week-to-week basis, forces Allen into the spotlight much earlier than many had expected.
Allen, 24, is a big reason why the Blues felt comfortable letting go of goaltender Ryan Miller just months after acquiring him, and a big reason why they didn’t search for additional goaltending help during the summer. Successful just about everywhere he has been in his career, Allen has already shown what he can do at the NHL level, and if anything the injury to Elliott only fast tracks what was expected to happen.
Though Elliott was locked up for three seasons at $2.5 million per year in the off-season, the role he is assuming is more that of mentor while Allen rounds into form.
Already this season the two goaltenders had nearly split time; Elliott has seen 14 games while Allen got the nod in nine. In front of one of the better defenses in the league, Elliott has posted a .931 save percentage and 1.82 goals-against average, but Allen hasn’t been too far behind at .920 and 2.12, not to mention two shutouts.
It’s likely not the way the Blues imagined handing Allen the reins as starting goaltender, but it might be the way that the New Brunswick native takes them. If he’s able to string together a series of strong performances, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Elliott is watching once he’s back to full health.
Last season, Allen appeared in 15 games for the Blues, showing off just what he could provide the team with. Over those fifteen appearances, Allen posted nine wins, one shutout, a .905 SP, and 2.46 GAA. It was in the AHL, however, where his play shone brightest.
Over 52 games in the AHL last season with the Chicago Wolves, Allen posted 33 wins and a gaudy .928 SP with a 2.03 GAA. His performance, one of the best in the league, earned him Aledge Bastien Memorial Award honors as the AHL’s most outstanding goaltender.
Some may recognize Allen’s name from his 2010 World Junior performance, where he backstopped Canada to the silver medal.
For the time being, goaltender Jordan Binnington will backup Allen. Binnington was recalled from the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday on emergency basis. However, if Elliott is out for an extended period of time, the belief is the Blues may look at free agent or trades to shore up the backup position.