The St. Louis Blues were not really built to rely too much on their goaltenders. However, that is exactly what they tried to do in 2017-18 and they could not get the goaltending needed to bail them out.
I’m going to let you know right here and now, to stop reading if you are just a Jake Allen hater. All St. Louis Blues fans are entitled to their opinion. However, this article attempts to look at facts, not just popular opinion among the masses.
So, if you’ve come expecting Allen bashing, you’re not in luck. I won’t pretend to be objective, but I will attempt to be my own sort of fair. That said, let’s proceed.
The Blues, as a team, had some wild ups and downs in 2017-18. For whatever reason, their defending was sub-par and they put way too much pressure on both of their goaltenders to perform. While one did more often than not, the other struggled under the weight of expectation. The other was, of course, Jake Allen.
Final Grade: C-
To paraphrase a Star Wars line, I can sense as though a million souls just cried out in terror and then were suddenly silenced. Those that did not heed my warning just went all tomato-faced.
How can you not give Allen an F? He was terrible! That is the thought process of so many fans, but the truth is that he was mediocre.
He had some very high points and some very low points. So, the grade reflects that by being slightly less than in the middle.
The issue with Allen is that we all bring our own baggage to the argument. If you like him, as I admittedly do, you look for stats to defend him. If you don’t like him, then every little thing seems like a mountain, even if only a mole hill.
Allen’s overall stats in 2017-18 were not great, but not as awful as anyone would have you believe. His final save percentage and goals against was .906 and 2.75.
Those are not good numbers at all, I grant you. However, like a pitcher in baseball, once your averages go so far south, it is difficult to bring them back to normal. That is what happened to Allen, in a sense.
Allen had a great open to the season. He won his first three games and seven of his first 10 decisions. The defense was never quite right, however, and Allen was the beneficiary of some scoring.
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Four of his first five games had 35 or more shots against. Some might say that is normal for today’s game, but it is far too high to be a sustainable shots against total. For whatever reason – I know many readers have plenty in mind – Allen buckled under the pressure and had a huge slump in the winter time.
The Blues, as a team, had a terrible slump once Jaden Schwartz got injured on December 9. That’s the exact date when wins were hard to come by for Allen.
After that date, he won just three of 17 decisions. Love him or hate him, that just cannot happen.
The offense stunk, the defense was bad and Allen looked like more of a head-case than your average goaltender. It was not a pretty sight.
Even as a fan of his, it was hard to watch him struggle so much. It did get to the point where you just knew the team was better off without him because they were not playing for him. We all have our different ideas about that, but that could be an entire article of its own.
What people forget, just like they forget how Allen won the 2017 Minnesota playoff series by himself, is how good he was down the stretch.
Allen won six games in a row and eight of nine during an important stretch in March. Without those, the Blues don’t even have a chance at making the playoffs at the end of the season. Four of those games had a save percentage of .950 or better.
Like the team in front of him, Allen struggled the last few games. He did not get enough offensive support, but he was not really to blame fully.
The problem with Allen is that fans expect goaltenders to be superhuman. They see the highlight reel saves other team’s goalies make and expect that is the norm.
Unless you have no job or other hobbies, you simply don’t have the time to watch any other team as much as the Blues. So, you’re not seeing the other goalies as much as you do your own. You don’t see the struggles and the peaks and valleys. So, it is easy to assume your goaltender sucks while everyone else is so great.
It is true that Allen had a poor season. He will admit that and so do I. The belief that it was just the worst ever is misguided and biased on the negative side.
Allen does have to right the ship though. He cannot have a sustainable career where he continually finds ways to struggle in the winter months. His quality start percentage is not where it needs to be, at all, for example.
I feel a C- is a fair grade for this season. However, if he’s going to be a C- goaltender going forward then the team will be forced to look elsewhere. You can win without the superhero goaltender, but this team is not built to have a mediocre one.