(HockeyStL) -- If you want to know how the shortened lockout season went for the St. Louis Blues then look no further than to the goaltenders.
The Blues entered the season with last year’s Jennings Trophy winners Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak expected to lead the way to a successful season and a deep playoff run.
Elliott started poorly, Halak battled injuries. The script wasn’t going as planned early in the season.
That’s when Jake Allen arrived from the AHL-affiliate Peoria Rivermen. Allen created stability to a lineup that went through turbulent times after a 6-1-0 start. His numbers, 2.46 goals against average and .905 save percentage, were dwarfed by the successful record of 9-4-0.
Allen proved his worth, but eventually took a backseat when Elliott re-emerged in successful form that mirrored last season. Halak wouldn’t be seen in the final 14 regular season games.
After a first round exit in the playoffs, the Blues now begin to look to next season -- this time with three goalies they believe are worthy of a roster spot.
“We got three under contract,” head coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We’re in a tough position for three goalies, but we’re in great position organizationally-wise. We’ve got three good goalies. I’m not sure what we do, to be honest with you, from a play standpoint.”
Allen is more than deserving of a chance with the Blues after his play this season, according to general manager Doug Armstrong.
“He’s certainly proven that based on the work this year that he’s at the point now where I don’t think going back to the American Hockey League -- I don’t think he needs more seasoning now,” Armstrong said. “He’s one of three right now and he doesn’t need waivers to go back to the American Hockey League. He has proven to me that he deserves an opportunity to play in the NHL.”
The goalie logjam was enough to cause tension between Hitchcock and Halak this week, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The newspaper reported a “heated disagreement” between the two men outside the locker room prior to Game 4. The story states that the argument started with Halak being late to a team meeting and led to his displeasure with playing time.
“The stuff with Jaro, that’s an everyday occurrence like arguments and discussions that go on with players and playing time and all of that stuff that was discussed in the media today,” Hitchcock said. “That’s the ongoing stuff. If he wasn’t pissed and disappointed I’d be surprised and I don’t care. To me, if you’re under contract, get ready to play.”
Hitchcock implied that the three goalies will get their chance to prove themselves at training camp, which will mark the first training camp under Hitchcock since he became head coach in November of last season.