St. Louis Blues 2013 Season Preview: Goaltenders

Jaroslav Halak Blues

Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports

If the St. Louis Blues hope to return to the NHL playoffs this season, the play of the William M. Jennings Trophy-winning tandem of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak will have a lot to say about it.

With a shortened season on the horizon, the Blues find themselves in a very good position, with two goaltenders capable of being the starter on any given night. They each had their moments in the spotlight last season, and combined for 15 shutouts. Elliott recorded 23 wins with a 1.58 GAA, while Halak won 26 games and kept his GAA at just 1.97. The Blues were able to ride their hot goaltenders into the postseason, winning the Central Division and clinching the second seed in the Western Conference. They were able to outplay the San Jose Sharks in a physical first round series before getting swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in the second round.

An injury to Halak left Elliott to step up against the Sharks, but he ran into an even more determined counterpart in the next series in the Kings’ Jonathan Quick. The health of both goaltenders is obviously one of the team’s primary focuses heading into camp, and expect coach Ken Hitchcock to play whichever goalie is on a hot streak at the time once the season gets underway.

In case of injury, one of the the Blues’ options with the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen is Jake Allen, whose only NHL action to date is a relief appearance during the second game in the Kings’ series of last season’s playoffs. They also have Mike McKenna signed to a one-year, two-way deal. McKenna has four wins in 17 career NHL appearances for the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils. The team’s top prospect in net, Jordan Binnington, is in his fourth OHL season with the Owen Sound Attack and is 17-6-4 with three shutouts.

If Halak and Elliott can perform like they did last season, the Blues should have no problem making the playoffs again. If either is injured, the team will have to hope the other can make multiple starts in a row because relief options are shaky and limited.

 

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