Ken Hitchcock. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock pulled Jake Allen Saturday but put Allen back in net two minutes later. Hitchcock’s move was made in order for the Blues to get a timeout without actually using a timeout just so Hitchcock could preserve the ability to use his coach’s challenge.
The coach’s challenge has become an interesting wrinkle in the game and, at the very least, has achieved the desired result when it comes to overturning offside plays that result in goals. But challenging a play requires coaches to possess their timeout — no timeout, no challenge. So what happens when a coach feels the need to give players a second to regroup?
Well, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has found a creative solution: if you switch your goaltenders, you’ll get a short rest for your skaters. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, Hitchcock has employed this strategy twice this season, and the second occurrence caught the attention of many.
In St. Louis’ 4-1 loss to Toronto this past Saturday, Hitchcock gave goaltender Jake Allen the hook after he allowed a goal to Maple Leafs winger P-A Parenteau with more than 11 minutes remaining in the second period. It was the third goal Allen allowed, but he seemed less than pleased with the decision upon returning to the bench:
Allen was back in the game little more than two minutes later and he remained between the pipes for the rest of the game.
Hitchcock admitted his goaltender’s don’t love the strategy — “I don’t think they’re OK with it,” he told Rutherford — but he said he didn’t want to go wasting a timeout. And that makes sense because now, more than ever, a timeout might come in handy if a questionable call goes against the Blues.
Rutherford reported that Allen was told by Blues assistant coach Kirk Muller after he was yanked Saturday that he would be going back into the game. When asked about the strategy, Allen said he understood what Hitchcock was doing and said the challenge plays a big part in it.
“Timeouts are so key, especially with challenges,” Allen told Rutherford. “If you waste it, come to the last minute of the game and you need it, it’s a crucial time, right? I think it’s another strategic way to get a breather and give the guys a chance to regroup. We knew that that’s going to happen throughout the year. It’s not a big deal.”