It’s worse than it looked, at least in person. The lower-body injury that forced goaltender Brian Elliott out of Monday’s game against San Jose will keep him sidelined for at least four weeks.
The Blues announced the update Tuesday morning, after Elliott was evaluated. The goalie has been placed on long-term injured reserve, joining forwards Alexander Steen, Steve Ott and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.
The injury occurred past the midway point of Monday’s game as Elliott tried to make a stop during a net-front scrum. The picked trickled past Elliott as the goaltender’s right leg snapped around. He would exit the game and would not return.
Jake Allen, who is fresh off IR and was backing up Elliott, entered the game in relief.
“It’s sort of tough,” said Allen. The goaltender had not played since Jan. 8. “I haven’t played in a month and a half. For me it’s short notice to get up to game speed.”
Elliott’s injury comes within days of the club losing star forward Steen for a similar length of time due to an upper-body injury. The club has battled injuries all season yet still holds the fourth-best point total in the NHL.
“It’s getting a bit old,” Allen said. “But we really have no control over it. It’s unfortunate that we don’t.”
With Elliott missing at least the next 11 games, Allen is expected to grab a heavy workload into the latter stages of March. Prior to Monday, Elliott had posted a 12-3-2 record in his last 17 games and a .943 save percentage in February. He was tops amongst all goaltenders in save percentage (.931).
“If Brian can't go then it's Jake's turn now,” head coach Ken Hitchcock said following Monday’s game.
Allen says he is ready for the challenge, despite only recently recovering from a lower-body injury that sidelined him for 17 games.
"I’ve done it all year long, I don’t see why not," Allen said. "That’s what I’ve been working for the last week. I’ve felt good the last week, I just wanted to get back the timing and speed and instincts. The scenario I’m in, I have no choice but to jump in and get back at it and make the most of it. If they need me for the rest of the year, then, great.”
Allen has an 18-11-3 record this season, while posting a .923 save percentage in 34 games. He was expected to compete with Elliott for playing time down the stretch.
"Thankfully Jake is healthy and it seems like he'll maybe get the reins here for a bit," Blues captain David Backes said. "When 'Ells' is back, we're going to have that two-headed monster back and we are going to have our choice of guys to pick from. But again, it's next-man-up, different guys filling roles and we just have to come together and get the job done as a group."
The Blues also recalled goaltender Pheonix Copley from the Chicago Wolves to back up Allen during Elliott’s absence.