Several Blues have something to prove a season after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but after two straight mid-season slumps Jake Allen likely tops most fans’ doubt lists. This fact only amplified with Wednesday’s announcement Allen will miss 10-14 days of training camp with back spasms.
The Blues are so far mum on details regarding Allen’s ailment, but did lean toward the positive side corresponding with our Blues insider, The Athletic‘s Jeremy Rutherford.
“I did reach out last night to the organization and said, ‘Hey is this concerning?’ and the two words I got were ‘very minor,’ Rutherford recently told ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show.’
“The Jake Allen that I know of has never experienced these back spasms, but as we all know, in baseball, football or hockey, whenever you hear ‘back spasms,’ that’s something that can linger, so I think it will be something to keep an eye on.”
As stated above, it’s something lots of fans already had their eyes on following consecutive seasons where Allen faltered mightily in December and January. 2017-18 held a Carter Hutton safety net, but he’s gone now and journeyman Chad Johnson is No. 1 on the depth chart in Allen’s stead, followed by touted prospect Ville Husso. The Blues added lots of offensive help up the middle this year, but goaltending, a concern even before Allen’s spasms, just became a bigger one.
“Let’s say he was just lights out [in training camp]. I don’t even think a Jake Allen who plays lights out the first couple months of the season really has proven anything until he can get through the bulk of the season, the middle of the season where he’s had those problems the past couple December-January’s into early February,” JR said.
“I think if he can get through that, that’s where he’s going to be able to show people he can be the No. 1 goaltender here,” he added. “Obviously, the back spasms are a little bit of a setback and like I said, it’s going to force him to miss some time. He’s going to have to get up to speed as soon as they start playing games.”
Should Allen miss 14 days, it would mean all but one exhibition game before the Oct. 4 opener vs. Winnipeg at Enterprise Center.
Much has been made of the lack of offensive support for Blues goalies last season, with head coach Mike Yeo also alluding to it in a recent chat with the Bernie Show.
“[Allen] was playing outstanding hockey; one of the best goalies in the league for us and then he went through a tough stretch. He had no support last year,” Yeo said. “If we think Jake is going to come in and play 60 to 62 perfect games for us next year, it’s not going to happen…This year we’re going to have a group capable of scoring more goals and give him a chance to get out of it.”
Which is probably true, but Rutherford also points to Hutton’s ability to pull out wins despite the lack of Note scoring last season, something Allen struggled with.
“I do think Jake Allen has confidence. You get a Ryan O’Reilly, bring in a David Perron, a Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon; I think the offense is going to be beefed up and I think it’s going to give Jake Allen a better chance,” he said.
“But listen, here you’re saying those things; he’s got to play. He’s got to perform. He’s got to play well. He’s got the big contract. He’s the guy now. He’s got to do it and it’s going to be tough for him now with this setback.”
You can hear all of JR’s recent visit below. Stay connected with 101 ESPN and 101Sports.com for lots more Blues talk and coverage as training camp gets underway and the regular season approaches.