Another injury Monday forces team to go with last season's playoff tandem
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The Blues have to unfortunately relive last year as far as their goaltending situation is concerned.
Jaroslav Halak, after suffering a high ankle sprain in the first round of the playoffs last season against San Jose, is hurt again, and the Blues are having to turn to the Brian Elliott-Jake Allen tandem again.
Halak, who left Monday's 4-1 win over Minnesota late in the first period with a lower-body injury, is out indefinitely. There have been reports that Halak's season is done, but coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't go that far.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Jaroslav Halak's recent injury isn't suspected to be same groin injury
but to another part of it. He is out indefinitely.
When asked if Halak's season is over, Hitchcock replied, "I don't know about that. I can't tell you that right now."
Halak, who has had an inconsistent season at 6-5-1 with a 2.14 goals-against average and .899 save percentage, missed eight games after suffering a groin strain Feb. 1 in Detroit. It's presumed to be the same injury but the Blues would not divulge the details.
All they know is that just like against the Sharks and Los Angeles Kings last season, the foreseeable future will involve both Elliott, who's had his struggles this season, and Allen, who came in and stabilized the goal for the Blues after being recalled from the American Hockey League's Peoria Rivermen. He is 8-3-0 with a 2.45 GAA and .906 save percentage.
"Allen came in and played great for us, so I think there's a comfort level within the framework of the team," Hitchcock said. "There certainly is a comfort level with the coaching staff. So I don't anticipate us missing a beat here, but these are pressure games with high intense action and you get a good evaluation of everyone. ... We're going to have a good evaluation of our goalies. We're hoping everybody steps up."
Elliott, who is 4-6-1 with a 3.51 GAA and .859 save percentage, picked up his first win Monday since Jan. 31 at Columbus. He stopped 19 of 20 shots and felt like he got his game back after a two-game stint with the Rivermen last week.
Elliott was assigned on a conditioning stint and after allowing three goals on 10 shots, stopped the final 46 he saw, including a 27-save shutout over Lake Erie.
"You always try to go back to what gives you success, whether it's tying your left skate before your right or doing something right on the ice," Elliott said. "But your game evolves and changes over a course of a year. The game changes so you have to adjust different things. Those adjustments periods, they happen quick in a shortened season. It's making those little changes and staying patient and watching the puck."
Hitchcock calls the two-game stint in Peoria exactly what Elliott needed.
"I think what we're really grateful for is that he went to Peoria," Hitchcock said. "He got all the gameday routine out of the way, so it was familiar ground. That's fortunate and smart on both parties' part to allow him to play those games in Peoria because I thought we saw the product of it in the last game he played."