Imagine for a second you’re Jake Allen, rookie goaltender for our St. Louis Blues. You’re brought up to backup, and at the time only backup, the usually reliable Brian Elliott due to a groin injury to number one netminder Jaroslav Halak.
One problem though…in your first game here Elliott stinks up the joint against Nashville and you’re called into duty. So what happens on the first shot you face in your NHL career? Of course it goes in too. All of a sudden you can’t get back to Peoria quick enough.
By the end of the homestand Halak is ready to return to save us all from watching Elliott trying to find his game with live bullets flying. Except Halak hurts himself in pregame skate and before you can even unpack your stuff in Peoria you’re called back.
This time though you won’t be backing up, you’ll be starting. At Joe Louis Arena no less against the Detroit Red Wings. No pressure right? After a shaky start you get through your first start with a thrilling overtime victory thanks to a goal by Alex Steen ending a catastrophic 5 game losing streak which had temporarily dropped the Blues from the top eight in the West.
Two nights later in Calgary you make a number of fantastic saves, including what is being lauded as the save of the year around the NHL. So what’s you’re next act? A trip to Vancouver to face the two time defending President’s Trophy Winners the Vancouver Canucks.
Again you’re locked in a tight one that heads to overtime tied at 3. Only this time the game winner from your mates doesn’t come in the OT session’s opening minute. Instead here we sit just 30 seconds away from your first NHL shootout, when what happens? Well Ian Cole lets Alex Burrows get by him on a breakaway and all of a sudden you’re faced with the game in your hands. Nothing but you and Burrows.
No problem for this kid. He’s unflappable. A glove save on the Burrows breakaway saves the game for the Blues and allows them to get the game to the shootout where they would eventually pick up a much needed 2nd point. The shootout didn’t offer much drama thanks to goals by TJ Oshie and Andy McDonald, but it ended after only two rounds?
Because our unflappable rookie who was supposed to be an afterthought this year stoned both Canucks shooters, and outdueled arguably a future hall of famer on the other end of the ice in Roberto Luongo.
Now Allen stands at 3-0-0 and is set to start back at home tomorrow night against San Jose according to Jeremy Rutherford on Twitter. One more win, and we officially have a dilemma. Halak will most certainly start in Colorado, and remains the Blues number one netminder, but the question now has to be…who is number two?