Jake Allen, Can He Follow Ben Bishop?


Hello everyone, I will be the new “Prospects” column writer for Bleedin’ Blue.  I am not your typical writer.  I am a fan like all of you and have opinions just like all of you. I have been a Blues fan my whole life and I have loved watching Army and JD turn this team into a powerhouse.  I hope my findings on our Blues prospects are what you are looking for and I hope you provide feedback, whether positive or negative.  Let’s begin!

I felt after seeing Ben Bishop shipped off to Ottawa, it would be fitting to take a look at Peoria Rivermen goaltender Jake Allen who was the Blues 2nd Round (34th Overall) pick in the 2008 Entry Draft.  Allen has taken over the starting role in Peoria now that Bishop is gone, a role is used to already.  In 2010-2011 season, Allen played in 47 games for Peoria due to an injury to Jaroslav Halak at the NHL level that required Ben Bishop to be called up.  In those 47 games Allen went 25-19-3 with a 2.52 GAA (goals against average) and a .917 S% (save percentage) letting in 118 goals on 1306 shots.  Not to mention that he started last season 15-2-1 and found himself in the AHL All-Star Game.

So who is this Jake Allen character?  Is he the next big thing for the Blues?  I spoke with Brendan Burke (@brendanmburke), Peoria Rivermen’s play-by-play announcer, and Marissa Vicich (@PietranJello), who writes for aeryssports.com about the Rivermen, about their feelings on Allen.

I asked both Burke and Vicich, “Do you think the Rivermen can continue their good season and make a run in the AHL Playoffs (pending reaching them) on Allen’s back?

Burke, “I certainly think that Jake Allen can lead the Rivermen into the playoffs.  He will have to.  If he doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain, the Rivermen will fall out of the playoff race in a hurry.”

Vicich, “I think making the playoffs is doubtful…” “However, if a competent back up can be found; one that is trusted enough to get starts, that will take a tremendous amount of pressure off of Allen and allow for him to rest on occasions.  If this happens, I feel as though the playoffs would be a much more attainable goal…”

There is and is not a lot of pressure

that seems to be riding Jake Allen.  Playoffs or no playoffs, he’s still just 21 years old.  He has started 90% of the games he has played in his life.  His meager 6-13-1 record currently doesn’t spell who Jake Allen is or what he will be.  It seemed last year, with more playing time, Allen flourished.  The spotlight is now on him and he has a chance to develop and grow into a potential NO.1 NHL goaltender.

So is the pressure off now that Bishop is gone?  Is the team Allen’s now?  How are the fans reacting to losing Bishop and Allen taking over the starting job?  Right now it seems to be a little too early to tell but as Vicich put it, “With Bishop gone, Allen has nobody standing next to him to be directly compared to night after night, which for him, has to help with his comfort and confidence levels.”

I couldn’t agree more.  If you watched Allen in the 2010 World Junior Championships, the kid excelled and was talked about as the next big name net minder…until the Championship game vs USA of course were Allen gave up 5 goals, including the OT, Gold Medal Game winner on what looked like a makeable save.  I bring up those 2010 WJC games because it shows the real Jake Allen.  He didn’t allow the talk of “blowing the big game” affect him.  He went into the AHL with the Rivermen the next year and made the All-Star roster.

Fans have mixed feelings on whether Allen can be as good, or perhaps even better than Bishop, but it’s still early.  There’s still a lot of hockey left to play.  There are still a lot of wins, losses, shots, amazing saves, and goals to be scored.  Keep an eye on Jake Allen Blues fans and you might witness the Blues next big thing.

What’s your reaction?  What do you think about Jake Allen?