The St. Louis Blues had Jake Allen on their radar long ago and figured he would be the goalie of the future. That label seems in question now, but the team needs to not give up on him yet.
The St. Louis Blues almost seemed to have Jake Allen earmarked as the starter as soon as they drafted him in 2008. He did not start playing NHL games until 2012-13, but you could tell the team was headed in that direction.
However, like WWE fans – that used to be WWF for those that don’t follow wrestling – many have held that fact against Allen ever since. Like John Cena or Roman Reigns, it has become the in thing for people to hate on him simply for the sake of doing it.
Allen may have reached the point that has eaten up so many Blues players in the past. He might be at the point where, short of actually winning a championship, he will never be able to do right in the eyes of those particular people.
Forget the fact that the defense has hung him out to dry far more often than not. Forget the fact that the offense dries up like a drop of water in the desert. Conveniently forget the fact that he, single-handedly, won the Minnesota series in the 2017 playoffs.
Nope, Allen is tarnished according to those people and Doug Armstrong is pulling the strings to keep him in there. The same way Vince McMahon put his thumb on Daniel Bryan to keep him down, Armstrong is strutting around like the WWE owner, puffing out his chest and shoving Allen down our throats apparently.
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Despite the theories, there is no conspiracy from on high to keep him in there. These guys are in the business of winning and if a player is preventing that, they take action. There are valid reasons to not give up on Allen, even if the tide is turning against him however.
1.) The Offense Is Non-Existent
Allen has received some of the worst offensive support of any goaltender in the league lately. It has been odd to see the turnaround.
Earlier in the season, it was Carter Hutton that was not getting the goals. Randomly, in the middle of the season, those things started to switch. The offense was working for the Hutt, but not the Snake.
In the Blues last five games where Allen played, they scored a total of 10 goals. That includes the five goals scored against Winnipeg, so a total of five goals spread over the remaining four games.
Two goals per game is bad enough for support. 1.25 goals per game is even worse.
Over his last 10 starts, the Blues have averaged 2.3 goals per game. That is just not cutting it.
This nonsense that the defense plays more tentatively for Allen is just that. It makes no sense that the defense plays worse if they are trying to defend better. If they are not focusing on offense because they worry about Allen, then they are not doing their job because the defense has looked like children stumbling around and that’s not how you play if your sole focus is on defense.
2.) Allen has Deserved Better
Whether fans want to admit it or not, there is an oversimplification of the position of goaltender. The simple-minded view that a good goaltender would have stopped that shot or this shot has to change, even though it never will.
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Like a baseball hitter going through a slump, things are not always in your control. You cannot just go out there and hit better when there are a multitude of things that could be affecting you. Perhaps you aren’t seeing the pitch right or your mechanics are off just a tick or there is simply a mental block. Those problems don’t automatically make you a bad hitter. It just means you have to find your way out of the slump.
The same is true of goaltenders. They just have an even brighter light on them since they don’t have eight other guys trying to do the same thing. The players on the ice help, but only a goaltender is solely focused on keeping shots out.
We touched on the defensive issues, but it bears repeating – Allen has not been to blame for all the team’s troubles. He shoulders some of the responsibility, but nowhere near as much as many believe.
Let those numbers sink in. Just to extrapolate on them, Winnipeg was fifth in goals, Pittsburgh eighth and Boston sixth (at the time the Blues played them). Winnipeg was tops in home wins and Boston fifth.
As the tweet said, if you remove the wrongfully counted goaltender interference goal, Allen has very solid numbers in those three games. Yet, he only has one win to show for it.
There was a Twitter discussion about Allen not stealing games. I argue he played well enough to steal the game in Boston, but one goal in support won’t get you much if you fail to have a shutout every night.
The Snake only has two wins in his last 10 appearances, giving him a record of 2-6-0 over that span – Hutton was the goaltender of record in two of those games.
Allen has given up some bad goals here or there, but if this team is so mentally weak they cannot bounce back, they can’t win anything no matter who is in goal.
Allen does need to play better, there is no doubt of that. If the team cannot help support him though, what is any one man supposed to do? For all his talents, Martin Brodeur could not win in New Jersey once they gutted hit corps of Hall of Fame defenders.