The St. Louis Blues will once again turn to Jake Allen in goal for a pivotal Game 5 in the Western Conference Final, Ken Hitchcock confirmed Sunday.
Allen made his first start of these playoffs on Saturday in Game 4, conceding three third-period goals but ultimately making 31 stops as the Blues, courtesy of a sudden offensive outburst, evened the series at two games apiece heading back to St. Louis.
The move to switch goalies was made to spark the Blues, according to the comments from Hitchcock. It wasn’t a reflection on how Brian Elliott had been playing in these playoffs — posting a .925 save percentage.
“What I was trying to explain to people, you need a good goalie. We had a really good goalie playing, but we were relying on the good goalie all the time. We weren’t playing for Ells. We were relying on him. There’s a big difference,” Hitchcock told reporters.
“(Elliott) was standing on his head and we were giving up too many quality scoring chances, too many easy chances, too many odd-man rushes. We were getting comfortable thinking that, in my opinion, the goalie could stop everything.
“We just needed to compete a lot harder for whoever was in goal. That was why I made the change. Had nothing to do with Brian. His play has been unbelievable since the start of playoffs. In my opinion, we needed to jolt ourselves into playing a lot harder for who was in the net.”
Hitchcock later added he’s “comfortable with either guy,” but said he made the decision after consulting with the coaching staff.
Game 5 goes Monday in St. Louis.