Hitchcock: Allen becoming a ‘prime-time player’ for Blues


If Ken Hitchcock’s history is any indication, St. Louis goalie Jake Allen might be on the verge of something big.

Allen, the 22-year-old rookie netminder, has taken his opportunity to move ahead of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott in the Blues’ pecking order with aplomb, going 8-1-0 with a .920 save percentage and 2.19 GAA.

The development has impressed Hitchcock, but hasn’t come as a huge surprise.

“He’s becoming a prime-time player,” Hitchcock told the Belleville News-Democrat on Tuesday. “We expected this when we drafted him and we expected this when he matured.”

The Blues took Allen in the second round (34th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the fourth goalie taken behind Chet Pickard, Thomas McCollum and Jakob Markstrom.

Hitchcock says teams can’t afford to miss on goalies selected that high (“you can’t make a mistake on those,” he said. “Those have to be prime-time players,”) and added that Allen’s situation in St. Louis reminded him of similar scenarios in Columbus and Dallas.

More, from the News-Democrat:

“This is a very similar story,” Hitchcock said. “Pascal [Leclaire] had a heck of a year the year before, a lot of shutouts, played great and then got hurt. We were thinking of playing Steve [Mason] 15 to 20 games and probably in the minors.

“Then when Passer got hurt, [Mason] ended up playing all the games.”

An injury to Dallas veteran goalie Ed Belfour gave [Marty] Turco his first chance.

“Eddie got hurt and Marty came in and played great and Marty’s career took off from there, so I’ve gone through this twice to be honest with you,” Hitchcock said. “This is very familiar ground.”

The Mason comparison is interesting because Allen could replicate some of the Columbus netminder’s success.

Mason was nominated for the Vezina and won the Calder in 2009. While Allen’s a long shot for a Vezina nod, he currently leads all rookie goalies in every significant statistical category.

Should he stay hot and carry St. Louis into the playoffs, there’s no telling what hardware will come his way.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.