Goaltending has been the hot topic for the St. Louis Blues lately and rightfully so. Both Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have horrible numbers on the year and have combined to provide little stability for the Blues in net. Hutton has been the better of the two, but that’s not saying much. As Allen continues to struggle, fans are clamoring for the team to make a change. While a goaltending change could help, it would only scratch the surface when it comes to addressing all of the problems plaguing the Blues.
In case you’ve forgotten how bad the numbers are for Allen and Hutton, here’s a look:
Allen: 2.85 GAA, .897 save percentage (34 games)
Hutton: 2.80 GAA, .892 save percentage (20 games)
Ugly. Ugly, ugly, ugly.
It doesn’t take any serious analysis to realize those numbers aren’t good enough for a team expected to make the playoffs.
Let’s pretend the Blues make a trade to address their goaltending. Aside from it continuing a multi-year trend of the team mismanaging and mishandling their goaltenders, it would be a patch on a roster with loads of problems. Yes, Allen and Hutton haven’t been up to the challenge, but the team’s defense has been dreadful too. Against Washington, two different goals were a direct result of a defenseman falling down. That’s anecdotal evidence, but there’s a huge problem with how the Blues are closing down on the opposition, eliminating quality chances and clearing out the puck when they have the chance to do so.
A trade would require GM Doug Armstrong to admit he screwed things up. The Blues traded away Brian Elliott in preparation for the future and the upcoming expansion draft. They’ve been forced to give up or move on from other assets thanks to the cap crunch created by Armstrong’s contracts. Elliott has been bad this year too and would probably struggle just as bad as Allen with the Blues’ bad defense, but the Elliott-Allen combo was so strong last season that it’s pretty frustrating the Blues gave up on it. It wasn’t Armstrong’s worst move, but it wasn’t his best and now he may have to eat crow.
The forwards, who it’s worth noting have been as inconsistent as can be on offense, are doing a poor job coming back to help out. How often have you heard the broadcast highlight a forward failing to come back on a play which resulted in a goal? The answer is too often.
A goalie trade could help. There’s no denying that. However, it’s critical for Blues fans to know that a goalie swap won’t suddenly cure the inconsistent offense, lackadaisical defense and overall poor decisions and strategies. The Blues are a team littered with serious concerns. They’re a shadow of the team which made a deep playoff run last season. Now it may take some considerable moves to even put the Blues in the playoffs.