Central

Goalie Drama Brewing for St. Louis Blues

Goalie Drama Brewing for St. Louis Blues
Pavel Kofman

Goalie Controversy. It’s the last thing St. Louis Blues fans want to hear right before the start of the playoffs.

It seems like a broken record by now. The Blues have had goaltender questions for more than a decade; it may be one of the biggest factors keeping them from winning a Stanley Cup. Last year’s experiment with Ryan Miller didn’t work out, and this year questions are beginning to surface around the new goalie tandem down the stretch.

The Blues are beginning to slide heading into the playoffs, much like they ended last season, losing their last 6 regular season games. This year, the Blues have lost five of their last six, and the play of starter Brian Elliott has been like a roller coaster ride.

After shutting out Calgary on March 17, breaking the Blues’ franchise record for shutouts, Elliot has lost four straight starts, including getting pulled in Minnesota on March 21.

In Elliott’s struggles, young backup Jake Allen stepped in nicely, playing strong in a 2-1 overtime loss in Detroit then helping his team to a huge victory in Pittsburgh. This is where the controversy begins.

After years of being a strong proponent of playing the hot hand in between the pipes, Coach Ken Hitchcock is sticking with Elliott as the starting goaltender heading down the stretch. Hitchcock says there is no goalie controversy, but to everyone looking from the outside, there may be one brewing if Elliott doesn’t improve soon.

Of course it’s not fair to simply blame the goaltender for the recent losing streak. The entire Blues team is quick to blame themselves for not supporting their goaltender. The players know they have to protect their goaltender as the first priority and they have not done it well in the past two weeks.

Perhaps the more concerning issue than the goaltending is the defensive breakdowns that have led to odd-man rushes and pointe-blank shots at the net.

The Blues remain second in the NHL in fewest shots allowed per game (27.3), but the stat doesn’t reveal the amount of quality scoring chances the team is giving up. On Saturday night vs Columbus, the Blues only gave up 17 shots on goal, which would normally be a solid night for the defense. But the Blue Jackets were able to score 4 times, one of them an empty net goal.

Perhaps the ugliest game the Blues have played came on Monday night, when the team was booed off the ice after a lethargic effort in a 4-1 loss at home to Vancouver. In that game, Elliott allowed three goals on 21 shots, but he let in a weak goal under his blocker that allowed Vancouver to pull away.

The dysfunction and inconsistency is something Blues fans are all too familiar with, especially the way last season played out with Miller. The Blues made a splash at the trade deadline, acquiring the All-Star veteran goalie from Buffalo. While it started out great, it began to crumble towards the end of the season, and especially in the playoffs.

What really seemed to strike a chord with Blues fans was how sparingly Elliott was used over Miller. Coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t play the hot hand in goal; he rode Miller in 19 of the season’s final 23 games, despite Elliott winning 2 of his final 3 starts, including a shutout in Pittsburgh.

Still, Elliott sat on the bench, only to watch Miller struggle against Chicago in the playoffs and see the season come to an end. This year, Elliott is in the same hot seat and he’ll be the work horse heading into the playoffs, with a hot Jake Allen sitting on the bench.

How the Blues manage their goalie duo will be interesting to watch in the final six games of the season, but if you ask any Blues fan, it’s just one of the many issues the team is facing to close the regular season.

Central
Pavel Kofman
@sportsfanaticpk

Pavel Kofman is a writer based in St. Louis, Missouri. He has written and covered various sports teams including the St. Louis Blues, Green Bay Packers, and Michigan State Spartans. But his one true passion is covering the NHL. Pavel has worked in the media for 10 years writing for Scout.com, ChatSports and more recently in sports radio and TV news. Carrying a true hockey name, Pavel was born in Moscow and speaks fluent Russian.

More in Central

NHL: FEB 08 Blackhawks at Blues

Get Ready For Plenty of Blues vs Blackhawks

Pavel KofmanApril 4, 2015
Nichushkin

Valeri Nichushkin Has Big Impact on the Stars

Luke LapinskiApril 4, 2015
NHL: JAN 10 Jets at Kings

Burning Questions for Each NHL Central Team

Mark HarrisApril 3, 2015
Bortuzzo

Robert Bortuzzo Has Impressed St. Louis Blues

Franklin SteeleApril 3, 2015
NHL: APR 02 Flames at Blues

St. Louis Blues Have Playoff Demons to Slay

Andy DudonesApril 3, 2015
NHL: FEB 22 Stars at Wild

Devan Dubnyk As Masterton Nominee is No Surprise

Cat SilvermanApril 2, 2015
NHL: FEB 12 Panthers at Wild

NHL Central Division Power Rankings: Wild Remain On Top

Mark HarrisApril 2, 2015
AHL: FEB 21 Rockford IceHogs at Lake Erie Monsters

Scott Darling Gets Much-Deserved Masterson Nomination

Cat SilvermanApril 1, 2015
NHL: FEB 22 Bruins at Blackhawks

Analyzing Possible First-Round Matchups for Blackhawks

Luke LapinskiMarch 31, 2015

YOUR HOCKEY YOUR WAY, BE SEEN BE HEARD BE A SLAPSHOT FAN TODAY! PART OF THE FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK

Slapshot on Facebook

Slapshot On Twitter

Copyright © 2014 Today’s Slapshot, All Rights Reserved. | Terms of Use/Privacy | Copyright | Site Map | About Us | Authors | Contact Us