St. Louis Blues Jake Allen’s Resurgence Comes At Perfect Time

ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 23: Jake Allen
ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 23: Jake Allen /

There is little doubt, at this point of his career, Jake Allen is a streaky goaltender. Thankfully, he keeps his best hockey for the spring.

The St. Louis Blues thought they had a goaltender for the future when they picked up Jake Allen and saw what he could do in the NHL. They believed in him so much that they let veterans like Ryan Miller and Brian Elliott go.

It has been a bumpy road for the netminder affectionately referred to as Snake since then. Two times over the past two seasons, if you bulk them all together, Allen has struggled mightily.

In 2016-17, the Blues brought assistant GM Martin Brodeur down from the press box to help out. The tactic worked and Allen played some of the best hockey we’ve seen since his rookie partial season gave us so much hope.

Allen basically won the Minnesota playoff series in the first round by himself. The Blues had to score a goal here or there, but the Wild were just overwhelming the St. Louis goal. The Snake was coiled and struck out at every shot, keeping the Blues in games that could have been blowouts.

We expected that magic to continue from thereon out. Allen had a good start to the 2017-18 campaign, but it was anything but a continuation from that stellar playoff series.

Allen was winning most of those first month or two worth of games. He was also being pelted with shots too. In the first four games of the season alone, Allen faced 153 shots against. That’s an average of 38.25 shots against per game.

The foolish will say that’s what goalies are paid to do. They’ll say it was early in the season, when you should be at your freshest.

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Those are all true points on the surface, but if you burn your goaltender out early, it affects their legs later. Making matters more difficult, the offense for the Blues dried up in the middle of the season.

From December through February, Allen had three four-game losing streaks, one of which got up to five in a row. From December to early March, Allen went 2-14-0. That stretch nearly broke both him and the team.

The Blues were on the outside of the playoff line and Allen looked like a shell of a goaltender. Even when he seemed to be playing well, a bad goal would sneak by or a bad bounce would go in off him and the head would go down.

As a fan of him personally, it was hard to watch. It was also hard to see the venom spewed his direction by people that have had their own issues in life where bad days pile up, but showed no sympathy at all. Just because someone gets paid millions of dollars does not mean they are not human.

Regardless of all that, Allen kept at the ready. Inside, perhaps very deep inside, he still knew what he was capable of. All he needed was the chance.

That chance came by surprise when Carter Hutton got hurt in a pregame skate prior to the March 8 game in San Jose. Allen played extremely well, but came up with another loss. Despite this, he came back the next game and played well again and the Blues won.

That entire California road trip may have saved the Blues season and Allen’s as well. The resurgence of the Snake could not have come at a better time, or at least a more needed time.

You can argue that if he turned it around earlier, the Blues would not be in the mess they’re in. You should also know that if the Blues did not have the worst offensive support in the league for any goaltender over that December to March stretch, they also would not be this low in the standings.

We can only take things as they are and right now Allen is playing like that goaltender that will steal you a playoff series. He has won seven of his last eight decisions. Over that stretch he has a .919 save percentage and a 2.12 goals against.

Those numbers won’t please everyone, but that’s a gigantic leap from how bad it had gotten.

The debate will likely never end as to whether Allen can be a truly consistent goaltender. Those of use that choose to believe the good stretches are what he is will latch onto that. Those that dislike him will gravitate toward the bad months.

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There is little doubt that Allen has saved his best hockey for the right time of year though. This particular Blues team needed that about as badly as you could.

Whether he sustains it into next season is anyone’s guess. For now, let’s all just sit back and enjoy.

That’s all we really can do as fans.