The St. Louis Blues have a recent history of having two quality goaltenders. That does not always mean there is a goaltending controversy though, even if fans want there to be one.
The St. Louis Blues have been blessed in the net over the past seven to eight years. While their crop of goaltenders have not led them to the promised land over that time period, they have given the team a chance more nights than not.
Of course, there are those that don’t understand the position or those that simply think its easier than it is. Regardless, the Blues have had it pretty good in net over the last few years.
You had the tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Say what you will – good or ill – about either one, but as a tandem they were one of the most formidable duos in the league. The same was true when it switched to Elliott and Jake Allen.
That stats were not there for Snake and Moose like they were for Halak and Elliott, but the wins piled up. Those two kept finding ways to win.
Over the course of these years, the Blues had four 100 point seasons, won two division titles and went to a conference finals. Goaltending was all a big part in that.
St. Louis continues that trend over the last two seasons with Allen and Carter Hutton.
Allen and Hutton have combined for a .921 save percentage over the last two seasons. They also have a combined 2.27 goals against average over that time frame.
However, despite their success as a duo, some want to make changes that are completely unnecessary. Basically, there is a vocal section of Blues fans that want Hutton made a permanent starter or at least a 50/50 partner.
That is not what is going to happen, nor should it. Just because Hutton is on a good string of play does not mean he is capable of handling the load.
Hutton has never even played half an NHL season, though he was close once. Due to an injury in Nashville, he played in 40 games in one season. Even in today’s NHL, starters usually see about 50-60 games.
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Another thing is that one season does not a goaltender make. Hutton is on fire right now, but his stats were comparable, if not worse, than Allen’s last season.
Hutton was at .913 and 2.39, while Allen as at .915 and 2.42. Jake’s numbers are about the same this year, but suddenly there is a loud cry that he needs to be benched for Hutton.
Hutton is playing very well, as shown by his stats. A little over halfway through the 2017-18 season he’s got 1.71 and .944 as his numbers.
That’s great for the Blues because it means he’s doing his job very well. However, those asking for him to start are blinded by the numbers.
It’s like football fans saying a backup with a great QBR rating or higher passing yards per attempt than the starter should be the man. It simply does not make sense.
Even as good as Hutton is playing, you cannot extrapolate his numbers over the number of games Allen has played and expect them to stay the same. The way the Blues have been up and down, scoring and getting shut out, it simply would not hold up.
Prior to this year, Hutton has averaged about 2.50 for a goals against. His save percentage is not any better than Allen’s.
This notion that you give him the net because he’s played better over 12 games and 10 starts than Allen has over 33 games and 32 starts is ridiculous. It’s shortsighted and foolhardy.
People pick and choose their ammunition in their argument too. Some say the Blues simply play better for Hutton.
Anecdotally that is true, but they forget how bad the team was in the Jets game where he got shelled by almost 50 shots. They forget how the team all but folded in front of him in overtime against New Jersey.
Conversely, they forget how many shutouts Allen might have if he had that little extra defensive support. The Blues have allowed one goal seven times and at least five of those probably should have been shutouts. That would have helped Allen’s stats for sure.
The other thing not accounted for is the up and down nature of the Blues. They allow 50 shots against in one game, but keep the totals to 20 in the next.
That sounds good, but if the quality of the 20 shots is a hundred times more difficult than the 50, it does not matter. So, if you allow 2 goals on 20 shots, your stats suffer.
There are some fans that just don’t have Allen passing the eye test. As it is said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so there is not much changing of the mind there.
When it’s all boiled down, Allen is and should be the starter though. Hutton deserves the time he’s getting and if he gets 30-40% of the games, then fine.
As much as I like him though, Hutton is not the goaltender that would lead this team to a Cup. Maybe Allen won’t be either, but he’s more likely to than the alternative.