Change of plans: Blues name Allen, not Elliott, playoff starter

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In late March, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said that Brian Elliott would be his team’s playoff starter.

What a difference a couple of weeks can make.

On Wednesday, Hitchcock announced that 24-year-old rookie Jake Allen would be the No. 1 when the Blues open against Minnesota on Thursday.

Allen, who started 32 games to Elliott’s 45 this year, appeared to be a slight favorite for the  gig late in the season as Hitchcock gave him some key starts with Elliott looking shaky, but today’s announcement still comes as something of a surprise.

Why?

Well, aside from saying Elliott would be the guy just a short while ago, Hitchcock alluded to the veteran’s past success against the Wild, saying “Ells has played more against this team, and he’s played well.” What’s more, Elliott has 18 games of playoff experience to Allen’s one minute (seriously, 60 seconds) and helped the Blues advance to the second round in 2012.

“Ells is the starter,” Hitchcock explained three weeks ago. “He’ll play the majority of games leading up to the playoffs. We’re on the course that we set two months ago when we made the decision that Ells was going to be the guy and we’re not changing that course.”

Consider the course changed.

To be fair, the switch does make sense and Allen has been viewed as the Blues goalie of the future for a while now. The 34th overall pick in 2008 has been highly successful at every level he’s played at — he’s won both CHL and AHL goalie of the year awards — and was absolutely lights-out in April, going 3-1-0 with a .964 save percentage (106 saves on 110 shots). His only loss was a 1-0 decision to Winnipeg on Apr. 7.