Sunday, May 14, 2017

Blues goalie Jake Allen

ST. LOUIS -- Jake Allen's season for the Blues could be split in two.

The one from October through Jan. 31 had good in it but a three-week period was more of a rocky road. 

The one from Feb. 1 on, store him, stash him, memorize what he did and duplicate him.

Those that watched Allen prior to Feb. 1 wondered if this was someone that could handle being a No. 1 goalie in the NHL, let alone be that for the Blues. But given Allen's workload and consistency from that date on proved a coaching change to Mike Yeo and ensuing working relationship with Martin Brodeur gave him the shot in the arm needed.
Blues goalie Jake Allen

Allen gave the Blues a chance to win on a nightly basis, helped them win a series against the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and gave the Blues a chance before falling to the Nashville Predators in the second round.

Allen discusses his season, his relationship with Brodeur and moving forward:

Now that it's sunk in for a couple days, how do you reflect?
It was definitely still bitter (Monday), but I think when we look back on it, a lot of it is a positive. I think when we look back on it, a lot of it is a positive. There's a lot of positives to take away and obviously we didn't go as far as we wanted, but I think we showed a lot of growth, a lot of maturity. I think we have a lot of players in here that are going to be here still for a long time. We've still got a really solid group.

When there's the talk of regression, a team in transition, losing big pieces, coaching change midseason, trade Shattenkirk and still made it this far, how did you take that and is there some satisfaction knowing you made it this far?
I think there is. Obviously it's sort of the underdog mentality a little bit. You're right, a lot of people probably counted us out, maybe potentially making the playoffs, maybe squeaking in, but I think even with the struggles that we had midseason, we proved that we almost caught second place in or division and were still there. We've still got a lot of great pieces that have been here for a while. We have new players that are up-and-coming. A lot of us are still pretty young, we've still got a lot more years left in us. I think we build a solid group over the last three or four years. Now it's continuing to build with some new pieces to the foundation.

From Feb. 1 on, how do you feel in the regard that you're the No. 1 here?
I knew I was the No. 1 all year. Honestly, I'm pretty happy with my year. I thought I had a good playoffs, I thought I had a pretty good year, subtract those three weeks, and I'm happy with it. I felt that not counting those three weeks, I gave the guys a chance all year to win games, to get points. That's my objective as a starter.

It's hard for a goalie to say that you've arrived, but that's perception around the league. How do you feel about that?
It's good. I need to make a case for myself. I still want to get better every year. I want to be one of the best in the league. I still got a ways to go, but I feel like every season, when I've looked back on it, I've gotten better in different ways. It's my objective.

At what point did you feel like you arrived and everything started clicking for you?
I felt really good coming into the season. I thought I had a good year last year as well. I think just from February on, I was zoned in. I knew what to do. I just needed to get back to doing it. It's gone well. I've got a lot of work to put in this summer, take a little break here, hopefully come back next year and really get off to a good start. I know training camp's going to be a little different next year with Mike around. I think we're all already looking forward to coming back.

How did you overcome that tough stretch? Was it soul-searching? How did you get back?
I'm not a very vocal guy. I didn't really talk to many people about issues or problems. I sort of just stayed within myself. It was just a matter of time. I knew deep down that I still had it. When I finally did it, I knew I was in the clear. It was tough, but I just really dug down deep in myself and got it done.

Was it a little bit of a challenge knowing that Yeo didn't get you guys from the start to implement his system?
Yeah, it was tough for him obviously too to come in and switch things around, but I think it was beneficial that he was here since the start. He understood our team, he's played against us a lot coaching Minny, and the system wasn't really too much different than the one we played before. The guys in here are very adaptable; you have to be in this league. They adapted, they implemented the system and it worked. 

Do you feel like the way you finished under Yeo that it creates a lot of positive buzz moving forward and what you can potentially do under his leadership?
Yeah, I think so. I think we all love playing for him. That's why we're going to be chomping at the bit to come back. It goes to show the finish we had, the sacrifice the guys would do and lay on the line for each other, for him, for the playoffs. It was impressive and I think training camp is going to be hard, but it's going to be fun. He did a great job.

What was the experience like for you to work with Brodeur?
It was cool. I've been very fortunate to play with him, him be my boss, now my goalie coach, now back to my boss. He was great for me. He was great for 'Hutts'. He was light, didn't change much and I think that was a key. I think if he came in here and tried to swing things around, it could have gone a different way, but he didn't. He just gave us some confidence, he was a good sounding board and it worked out really well. Who knows what next year holds, but this year was great.

You were talking to Brodeur at locker cleanout again. Does he provide offseason tips?
No. He just asked me about maybe getting out for a round of golf before I go home (to New Brunswick).

Is there a different feeling this offseason because you know who's coming back?
Pretty much most of us all have contracts for next year. You never know what can happen. There's the draft, there's trades, it's the nature of the business and also there's an expansion draft. It's going to be the first one for a lot of us to have partook in one of those. We'll see how that goes and what that holds. Each team's probably going to lose a guy to that and it's just the nature of the business and we'll see what happens with that.

What's the biggest takeaway that you take from the season yourself personally?
The adversity that I faced. I think I battled back, I came back stronger, I thought I got better as the season went on. It was a positive for me. I think just consistency at the end of the season and the playoffs and giving the guys chances to win and I think that's really what matters, especially into those playoffs.

What does standing out in the playoffs do for you going into next year?
I can enjoy it for now, but once next year starts, we've got to make the playoffs, and that's not easy. I think we've made the playoffs, I don't know, five or six, seven years in a row here now and that's rare in this league. Not many teams say they can do that. I don't think we're just gonna walk in here thinking we're going to make the playoffs. Our division's not easy. That's the focus is just coming back, playing hard, especially against divisional opponents and see where it goes.

How do you attack your summer now?
Kick around here for a couple more weeks, then head home. I'll at least get back in the gym June 1st, slowly get back at it. Three solid months of working out and skating, I probably won't skate until July. I'll get with my goalie coach (David Alexander, goalie coach of the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch) that I've worked with my whole life back home, enjoy myself, relax. I've got a four-month at home, so it'll be a fun summer.

Is it nice to get to go home and be a full-time dad for a bit?
Yeah, it will be. Not too many of my family members or Shannon's have met her yet, so it's going to be a hectic first couple weeks at home, busy house. It's going to be relaxing, so a lot of fishing and just enjoy it. 

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