St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen is in the midst of a personal nightmare.
He gave up four goals on 10 shots against the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, and was actually pulled twice: Coach Ken Hitchcock took him out in the first period for a mental break after he gave up two quick goals, and then took him out again when he gave up his fourth goal of the game in the second period.
It was the third straight game in which he was pulled. It was the fourth time in six games in which he was pulled. The Blues are, not coincidentally, 2-4-0 in those six games.
As they head on a three-game road trip to Winnipeg, Pittsburgh and Minnesota before the All-Star Break, the Blues have decided to leave Jake Allen home for a few days as a mental break.
GM Doug Armstrong said it’s a chance for Allen to “reset,” coming one day after Hitchcock lamented that Allen was all “locked up” mentally.
“We gotta get him unlocked. He’s just locked up right now,” he said, after the loss to the Capitals. “I don’t know how far it sets him back. There’s a lot going on right now. A lot in his head. He’s locked up mentally, and he’s going to have to fight through this.”
The first step, apparently, is giving the guy a mental break.
This isn’t unprecedented. The Detroit Red Wings once sent Chris Osgood home to get his head in order. And just like when that happened in 2009, the Blues were quick to note that Allen is now, and will be going forward, their starter.
“I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said after practice on Friday. “Jake is not going to join us on the trip to Winnipeg. We’re going to give him a day to reset. … Jake’s struggling right now and I made a decision last night that I think taking a day away, and getting a total reset, he could get a reset traveling with the team, but I wanted a complete reset and then we come back on Sunday, he’s back in the net and he’s ready to go. To me it’s not a huge story; he’s going to take a day to get a reset with his family, he just had a young baby, but the play needs to improve and I want to give him a fresh start.”
(A “young baby.” Rather than, like, Benjamin Button.)
As we noted last night, Allen has to be feeling tremendous pressure. The Brian Elliott safety net was traded away so he could be “The Man,” and he hasn’t sufficiently answered the call, with a .897 save percentage and a 2.85 goals-against average.
If the Blues are going to do anything this season, it’ll be with Allen. Pheonix Copley and Carter Hutton can push him, but they aren’t taking his gig. Especially with that four-year deal for Allen kicking in next season. The Blues need to fix him, not replace him.
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