The St. Louis Blues had a lot of high hopes heading into the 2016-2017. They had pending unrestricted free agent Kevin Shattenkirk receive a lot of attention all offseason but held on to him in hopes to make one last run to get over the playoff hump that has been haunting them for so long.
They had Jake Allen, who in the Blues’ eyes was ready to take over the starting duties full-time, so they traded Brian Elliott to clear the path. Elliott, of course, was coming off the best season of his career, but Allen was the younger netminder with a potentially higher ceiling.
Sometimes you see where a goalie doesn’t have to watch his back anymore splitting time with another starter, they take off and excel due to actually being able to take a step back and breath.
This hasn’t been one of those cases, for either Elliott or Allen.
Teamed with Chad Johnson up in Calgary, Elliott is having one of the worst seasons in his career, while Allen’s play is starting to leave questions on whether or not he can be the guy in net.
Statistically speaking Allen has been one of the worst goalies in the entire league this season, even worse than Elliott.
He has been pulled from games a league-high eight times, which sometimes can speak to the coach more than the player but Allen hasn’t put himself in the right position.
Last night against the Washington Capitals, Allen was actually pulled twice in the game. He was pulled after allowing two goals on three shots, sat out for a while before coming back in. After returning he allowed three more goals on seven shots before getting pulled for the rest of the night.
Thursday night’s game was the third consecutive game Allen has been taken out of. His base stats in that span is a goal against average of 9.23 and a save percentage of .787%, allowing ten goals in just 65 minutes of action.
Not something is going guarantee success for the Blues, who rely so much on their defense and goaltending to win games for them.
St. Louis finds themselves in third place in the Central division, a good ten points away from competing with the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, but only with a small lead over the rest.
The Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, and Dallas Stars are all within five points of the Blues, with St. Louis collecting the least amount of points out of the group over the last ten games.
To hold off the rest of the Central, it is going to come down to Allen, and whether he can improve upon his SV% at even strength, which is third worst among all goalies with at least 1,000 minutes at 5v5 play.
The tough to look at metrics don’t stop there either.
|Medium-Danger SV%||91.7%||11th worst|
|High-Danger SV%||77.67%||6th worst|
*All stats from Corsica.Hockey, based on 5v5 play
Not a pretty site, and definitely not what the Blues were hoping to see out of the 26-year old Allen. In some team’s cases, you can expect numbers like this, especially if they aren’t a competing team.
St. Louis is, and it isn’t even where Allen has been facing a barrage of shots on a nightly basis. Among all goalies with 1,000 minutes at 5v5, Allen has seen the second-fewest shot attempts directed his way, with only 50.02 Corsi-against per 60 minutes (CA/60). In terms of actual shots, he has faced the fourth lowest SA/60, and in terms of puck possession, only three teams drive action better than the Blues do while Allen has been on the ice.
It comes down to Allen just playing better.
Growing pains is something that is to be expected when it comes to a goalie take full control of the net for the first time but the level in which Allen has regressed is starting to look like something more than that.
The Blues gave Allen a new contract over Elliott due to his youth and potential, but instead, they may have to scramble and look to make a deal at the deadline in order to try and salvage a season where they had high hopes for.