The St. Louis Blues have been a tandem goaltending team for several years. 2016-17 changed that, but they still needed a solid backup and the team got just that.
The St. Louis Blues spent several years never truly knowing who their starting goaltender was. They picked up Jaroslav Halak before the 2010-11 to be the man, but even that did not quite pan out.
Halak had an OK first year, but injuries played a big role in him not getting as many games. So, the Blues brought in Brian Elliott to be the backup.
Elliott ended up fighting with Halak for the starting position for several years. Then Jake Allen thrust his name into the mix.
The Blues then went with a tandem, even in the playoffs a couple times. Playing time was almost split down the middle.
That’s fine for the regular season, but championship teams (Pittsburgh is an exception) generally have one guy they can lean on. The Blues tried to become that in 2016-17.
The Blues got rid of Elliott and completely handed things over to Allen. Allen came out of the gates strong, but faltered midway through the year.
Thankfully the Blues had Carter Hutton as the backup. Hutton was a huge reason the Blues did not fall completely off the map during their winter struggles.
There is no reason to cover ourselves in the flag and completely ignore anything bad. Hutton had plenty of struggles of his own.
Hutton’s play was solid though. It was the team that was not helping out and that made any struggle from Hutton or Allen increase ten-fold.
Hutton went 7-7-2 with a .896 save percentage prior to the All-Star break. His 2.81 goals against was not terrible, but definitely not where he or the team wanted it either.
Things definitely turned around after the promotion of Mike Yeo. So, the turnaround for the goaltenders made sense, since the team was playing better but Hutton benefited from Martin Broduer just as much as Allen.
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Down the stretch, Hutton really found his groove. After the coaching change, Hutton came up with two shutouts in consecutive games.
His games came fewer and farther between, but he stayed extremely sharp. Hutton went 3-1 with a 1.51 goals against in March.
Overall, Hutton had some pretty good stats for a backup goaltender. He went 13-8-2 in 30 games.
Perhaps most interesting was his ability to throw up goose eggs. Four shutouts might not sound incredible, but considering he played far fewer games and ended up with the same amount of shutouts as Allen.
In the grand scheme, .913 and 2.39 is nothing to throw a parade about. It was the visual that he provided.
Hutton stole several games for the Blues. As previously mentioned, he was able to keep the Blues from falling into the abyss.
Without a solid backup that had been through the wringer before with other teams, the Blues may have lost just enough games to not make the playoffs. Hutton is by no means a savior, but he was the team’s life support.
He had the perfect mentality for a backup as well. When he got in the game, he gave his all and gave his team the chance to win more often than not.
Whether he was just saying the right things or not, he knew the team was Allen’s. He was not trying to make it a power struggle. Hutton was simply going to go out every time given a chance and make the best of it. If it earned him more games, so be it.
If you are at the point in your career where you know what you are and are comfortable with it, that makes you very comfortable in your own skin. Hutton knew he was the backup, knew he would get some games here or there and knew he was there to support everyone, including Allen.
That was where he shined the most. It will be overlooked by statheads, but it is still an important aspect of his season.
He was not whining about how he deserved more time after getting a shutout or the team was winning when he was in while Allen struggled. He supported Allen and tried to lift him up just as players tried to do for him when he was not on his best.
Hutton was the consummate teammate. His play spoke for itself too, though he had his own struggles. Hutton proved himself to be an integral part, so much so that many hope he survives the expansion draft and at least plays out his current Blues contract.