Despite Brian Elliott‘s sometimes All-Star caliber work, it seems like the St. Louis Blues have always been looking for “their guy” in net. Is Jake Allen making a statement that they chose the right guy?
Saturday really might have stood as his magnum opus, as he stopped a whopped 45 shots while the St. Louis Blues managed a 4-0 win against the Nashville Predators.
It left just about all of his teammates and Ken Hitchcock in awe.
Indeed, it really was a near-historic night.
Being a successful goalie isn’t just about one big win, obviously. The good news is that Allen is playing exceptionally well lately.
Still, it’s nonetheless a small sample size.
Goalies are an odd breed, producing unpredictable results that can leave your head spinning (and predictions/criticisms looking silly).
With that in mind, PHT caught up with Justin Goldman, the founder of “The Goalie Guild.”
(Note: these are snippets of what Goldman had to say about Allen. Read the full Q & A here.)
PHT: Explain some of the characteristics that give Jake Allen “elite” potential.
Goldman: “When making a basic breakdown of Jake Allen’s game, I think most scouts realize that his elite potential begins and ends with his skating ability and footwork. Ever since his major-junior days, he’s always been known as a tremendous skater, and those skills continue to evolve to this very day …”
” … Beyond his elite skating ability and tremendous footwork, I believe you are looking at a tremendously well-rounded athlete who clearly understands what he needs to do to be physically, mentally, and most importantly, emotionally prepared for the rigors of being in a tandem with Brian Elliott.”
PHT: Conversely, are there any weaknesses he can work on?
Goldman: “Jake’s hands have really improved in the past few seasons and beyond. I know that there was a short period of time where it was something he targeted as an area he wanted to improve, mainly when he was in his second and third year with the Chicago Wolves. Every goalie is always continually refining all aspects of their game, so I think you have to give the Blues and Allen a lot of credit for trusting the process and not allowing one or two weaknesses to damage his long-term value.”
PHT: What sort of changes have you seen to his technique and/or approach over the last couple years? Does anything stand out in the games you’ve observed in 2015-16?
Goldman: ” … What I’m noticing from him right now is that he’s holding his edges a bit longer, showing more patience on his skates, playing with a bit more of a conservative positional approach, and really mastering his game plan. This improved edge control is allowing him to slow down the game around him and giving him more time. Everything is coming together nicely, and since he’s seeing the puck so well right now. Finally, his traffic management skills have improved. He’s shifting into shot lanes with less holes, he’s looking around traffic with more poise, and he’s finding loose pucks quicker. He’s a treat to watch right now and he’s still getting better.
Perhaps it all comes down to Allen making like a leathery steak, though?