When the St. Louis Blues season began, there was a great deal of anticipation for the NHL debut of Russian rookie Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blues were right in being excited about Tarasenko’s arrival, as he scored five goals and had nine points in his first seven games. A concussion has sidelined the young scoring sensation, and it is a different Blues rookie who is now having a Calder-worthy season: goaltender Jake Allen is 7-1-0 and has helped keep the team in playoff contention.
It would have been hard to imagine Allen even getting a shot at playing in the NHL. The Blues had the 2012 William M. Jennings Trophy-winning duo of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott returning from taking the Blues to the second round of the playoffs. An injury to Halak opened the door for Allen to get called up by the Blues, and the continued poor play of Elliott has kept him there. Allen recorded his first career shutout on Thursday, blanking the Phoenix Coyotes and lowering his season goals against average to 2.33. His lone loss came at the hands of the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 19 and featured a 2-1 final score.
In a shortened season, the amount of time Tarasenko has missed will all but eliminate him from Calder Trophy contention unless he catches fire when he returns to action. Allen’s numbers should get him at least some consideration provided he remains in the NHL the rest of the season, although at this point the award seems to be Jonathan Huberdeau’s (Florida Panthers) to lose. Either way, Allen has shown he belongs at the highest level and could very well end up being the reason the Blues make a return trip to the playoffs this season.