Thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, the St. Louis Blues are holding on tight to the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. The win put them five points ahead of the Kings and their 36-27-5 record sticks them in fourth place in the Central Division and two points behind the Nashville Predators.
The Blues have goalie Jake Allen to thank for their spot, as his U-turn has fuelled the club as of late.
Of course, it hasn’t been an easy road for the 26-year-old. He was playing dismal hockey in December and January, where he wasn’t 4-10-0 with a 3.50 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. Looking back, Allen considers that stretch the worst of his professional career.
And indeed, his poor play served as the catalyst for organizational changes. St. Louis fired coach Ken Hitchcock and goalie coach Jim Corsi on February 1 and brought Mike Yeo into the fold. Martin Brodeur took over for Corsi.
Since the shift, Allen has gone 9-5-0 with a .941 save percentage. And he’s 4-0-0 over his last four starts, with just five goals slipping through his grasp.
It would be perhaps simplistic to point to Brodeur’s presence as the reason behind Allen’s turnaround, but facts are facts.
“He [Brodeur] gives the goalies a reason why things are working and whey they’re not,” Yeo said.
Sometimes, perspective is everything.
Allen is now 26-18-0 on the year with a 2.54 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He has three shutouts and almost had another against the Kings before Dustin Brown squeaked a late goal past him with just under three minutes to go.
“I could care less about shutouts,” Allen said. “As long as we’re winning. If I don’t get a shutout the rest of my career, but I get 30 wins a year, then there you go.”
In four years with the Blues, Allen is 83-44-10 with a .913 save percentage and a 2.41 goals against average. He’s hit 26 wins twice thus far and looks primed to eclipse his career high totals this season, perhaps even when the Blues take on Anaheim on Wednesday night.
For now, it has to feel good to be back on track. And it will feel even better when the post-season starts and the Blues find themselves in the hunt once more.