In order to make the postseason, the St. Louis Blues must stick with goaltender Carter Hutton.
The St. Louis Blues have gone from a top-three team in the NHL to a franchise on the verge of missing the playoffs. They had a 16-5-1 record on Thanksgiving and it appeared they were going to be near the top of the standings all season.
Unfortunately, not long after the turkey digested, cracks began to form in the Blues’ game and several holes were created between the pipes. As a result, the Blues now find themselves competing with five teams for two wild-card spots.
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Year after year, goaltending seems to plague the Blues. No matter how great the forwards and defensemen play, their goalies seem to let the team down. When the story of the 2017-18 season is written, the dialogue will be no different, as St. Louis has been unable to rely on goaltender Jake Allen in net.
Allen has been one of the most frustrating players on any team this season. His inconsistent play is a major reason for the Blues’ struggles. After earning the full-time number one position last year, posting a 33-20-5 record, Allen was supposed to build upon his performance this season. Instead, the 27-year-old has regressed while struggling mightily at times. It has cost the Blues greatly.
With a record of 19-19-2, along with only two victories in his last 18 games, St. Louis must abandon any hope of Allen turning around his game this season. It’s time the club puts their season in the hands of backup goaltender Carter Hutton and give the 32-year-old the remainder of the year to push his team into the playoffs.
Across the board, his stats are significantly better than Allen’s numbers. Hutton has played in fewer games, but given his 16-7-2 record along with a 1.99 goals-against average and .935% save percentage, St. Louis has nothing to lose by running with Hutton.
In fact, the Blues likely should have started running with him weeks ago. But it’s understandable why the club would constantly give Allen chances. After all, he is five years younger than Hutton and is signed for three more seasons while Hutton is a free agent at the end of the season. The Blues needed Allen to find his confidence not only for this season but for next season as well.
However, for the sake of salvaging this season, St. Louis needs to give the net to Hutton and place Allen on the bench, even if Hutton stumbles occasionally. The backup has been the more reliable goaltender of the two. This was proven when the Blues finally snapped their seven-game losing streak. Hutton stood on his head as the first star of a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings by making 35 saves.
Hutton may not be the goaltender of the future in St. Louis but he’s the goaltender of the present and he could be the biggest reason why the Blues are able to earn a playoff berth.