There is no doubt that last season, the St. Louis Blues were good enough to make the playoffs.
The team has a deep offensive core, a great defensive corps, solid special teams, and a good coach in Mike Yeo. Normally, these kinds of things can get a team into the postseason.
The one missing ingredient last season was consistent goaltending from their supposed starter Jake Allen. Things got so bad for Allen, 27, last season that Yeo was forced to go with backup Carter Hutton, who is now with the Buffalo Sabres, played extremely well last year, for an extended period of time.
Hutton, 32, was a great safety blanket or the Blues. When he was put between the pipes last season, he had a lot of success, made a lot of big saves, and ended up being the club’s most consistent masked man last year.
With Hutton out of the picture, the Blues’ goaltending position just became a difficult situation. Two years ago, the Blues signed Allen to a four-year, $17.4 million contract extension.
At the time, this seemed like the right move as the team allowed former starting goaltender Brian Elliott to move on to the Calgary Flames.
As it turns out, the move hasn’t worked as planned for Allen or the Blues. While his numbers aren’t terrible, it is his consistency that is a concern for the Blues.
With Allen last year, the Blues got lucky in the early going and jumped out of the gate with a hot start despite Allen’s poor play. When the Blues started slumping, Allen slumped with them and never seemed to help his team get back on track and stay in thick of the playoff race in the West.
Sure, Allen played well at the end of the season, but it was too late as the team failed to make the postseason for the first time in six years. Allen’s poor play through parts of the season put this team in holes that they could not climb out of.
All the pressure is now on Allen to not only become a true consistent goaltender, but to get this team back into the playoffs. This franchise has yet to win a Cup and their fans are dying for one.
Allen has two years left on his contract before he becomes a UFA. One has to wonder if the Blues are going to see this through or if they will make a trade at some point.
Right now, all signs point to Allen. If you watched the Blues often enough last season, you could see this was the case as the club seemed to go to him time and time again to show that he was their guy.
The time is now for Allen to show he is worth what the team is paying him and that they made the right decision in making him their main man between the pipes for the future.
If Allen gets off to a slow start this year, things could get ugly quickly for the Blues.