St. Louis Blues Should Ride Carter Hutton’s Train Awhile

TORONTO,ON - JANUARY 16: Carter Hutton
TORONTO,ON - JANUARY 16: Carter Hutton /

The St. Louis Blues do not have a goaltending controversy. That must be made clear. That does not mean they cannot ride the hot hand.

The St. Louis Blues seem to have these issued come up a little more often than just about any other team. There are other franchises that do go through goaltending swings, there is no doubt of that.

Pittsburgh is the most notable one. Back in the mid-90’s, there was a question of whether to play Tom Barrasso or Ken Wregget, even though Barrasso helped the team win two Cups.

The same was true of Marc-Andre Fleury. He won titles with the Pens as well, but they seemed to always be on the cusp of letting him walk out of town.

There was the issue in Montreal. Fans would have actually been more than happy to keep Jaroslav Halak over Carey Price at the time, though I think they’d agree that worked out best for them there.

However, it just seems to keep rearing its head in St. Louis. For the last 20 years or so, it feels like every time the team settles on a goaltender, fans are ready to rush them out of town for the next name on the list or some unrealistic goal of trading for a Hall of Famer as though they are readily available.

So it is right now for Jake Allen. The Snake is the team’s starter. People need to get over their ridiculous notion that trading a young, cost-controlled goaltender or benching him actually makes sense. There are plenty of days that I thank the heavens above that fans are not in control of actual roster moves.

Allen is a very good goaltender who has hit a rut in his confidence lately. If you think that some of the best goaltenders of all time have not had dry spells where it seemed they could not stop a beach ball, you are sadly mistaken.

That is not to say that Allen is an all time great. You cannot know that until his career in St. Louis, or in general, is over.

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When on the best of their games though, Allen is the superior goaltender. Throw all the stats you want at me, but people like to pick and choose what stats fit their argument.

For example, someone on Facebook posted a stat table that showed Allen was better than Curtis Joseph or Grant Fuhr in terms of goals allowed. Of course, someone jumped at the chance to say Brian Elliott was better because he had allowed a few less goals as well. No offense, but the fans saying Moose was going to lead Calgary to the promised land got let down and he’s not lighting Philadelphia on fire either.

I digress though. The point is that Allen is the team’s starter now and for the near future. That does not mean the team has to return him to the net immediately.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of Allen. I am not blind though. The team would be better served to ride Carter Hutton‘s hot play for as long as they see fit.

Much like the Blues rode Elliott after Allen got hurt, it makes sense for them to see how far Hutton can go. He has been impressive as a starter.

Hutts is now 9-3-1 when starting and has played 16 games overall. His stats are incredibly impressive for today’s NHL as well.

He has a 1.78 goals against average and his save percentage sits at .942. That is second in the league to Fleury.

But, I reiterate, we sometimes use stats to fit our own agenda. Those are very impressive numbers, but he’s only started in 13 games. Even if you include his relief appearances, it is hard to judge 16 games against 35 or more.

Hutton is more than capable of stepping in and carrying the load for a bit. He did just that when there was an injury in Nashville. There is a reason he’s never played more than 40 games for any NHL team.  So, it is not just the Blues not giving him the starting role.

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Maybe Allen won’t be the one to lead the Blues to the promised land. I surely doubt Hutton will either, though I’d be happy to be wrong. However, if he keeps playing the way he is, then the team should take advantage of that.

The Blues need wins and however you achieve them is fine. If that means playing Hutton over Allen for a good stretch, so be it.

When 2018-19 starts, though, fans need to be prepared for the fact that Allen will be back in the starter’s role, regardless. For now, let’s put all this goaltending strife behind us and enjoy the ride for awhile.

Hutton does deserve to play.