Jake Allen (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues will be turning to Jake Allen for Game 4 of the Western Conference final. Coach Ken Hitchcock announced Friday that Brian Elliott will backup Allen, citing the switch as a potential momentum changing move.
Brian Elliott has been nothing short of outstanding throughout much of the post-season, but in a move to try and change the outlook of the Western Conference final, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has declared Jake Allen will start Game 4 over Elliott.
The move comes following a Game 3 in which Elliott allowed three goals against on 14 shots and was pulled in favor of Allen in the third period. The move in Thursday’s contest wasn’t all too surprising given the Blues were in need of a wakeup call, but it was believed the St. Louis bench boss would stick with the goaltender who got his team this far as the season continued, even if the writing may have been on the wall when Hitchcock said he would sleep on it before coming to a decision.
Elliott, 31, boasts a 2.34 goals-against average and .925 save percentage through 17 games, and Allen, 25, has only seen 50 minutes of action in this post-season. However, what Allen brings to the table that Elliott doesn’t — and what could be the greatest cause for the switch — is Allen’s ability to move the puck.
"Some of it is just changing momentum…but part of it is also the luxury,” Hitchcock said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford. “I’ve got a goalie that gives a different look, he plays a different style. He's very active in the net, he's very active at moving the puck and getting us out of transition. He's an awful good goalie just like 'Ells' is. Ells has run us quite a distance here and we just feel like Jake's a guy that can help us help change the momentum of the series.”
Hitchcock added that he came to the decision early Friday morning.
Though Allen hasn’t played much this post-season, he’s not a complete stranger to the playoffs. He was the Blues’ starting netminder during the 2014-15 season when St. Louis was ousted in six games by the streaking Minnesota Wild. Over the six-game series, Allen posted a 2.20 GAA and mediocre .904 SP.
Both Elliott and Allen took their turns manning the crease for the Blues this season in what was one of the truer 1A-1B creases in the league. Allen saw action in 47 games, posting a 26-15-3 record, 2.35 GAA and .920 SP. Elliott played 42 games and managed a 23-8-6 record, 2.07 GAA and .930 SP.