Jaroslav Halak, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the first round of the playoffs last year against the San Jose Sharks, is hurt again, and the Blues are having to turn to the Brian Elliott - Jake Allen tandem.
GAA: 3.51 | SVP: 0.859
Reports have circulated that Halak's season is done, but coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't go that far.
"Halak is out," he said after Wednesday's practice. "That's the best way I can describe it. I'll let you know when he's in."
Asked if Halak's season is over, Hitchcock replied, "I don't know about that. I can't tell you that right now."
Asked if he could guarantee that, Hitchcock said, "No."
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 against the Detroit Red Wings. The Blues would not divulge any details this time around.
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 goaltending for the Blues after being recalled from the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League. Allen 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 since Jan. 31 at the Columbus Blue Jackets when he relieved Halak. 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 against 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 said the two-game stint in Peoria was exactly what Elliott needed.
"I think what we're really grateful for is that he went to Peoria," Hitchcock said. "He got all the game day 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."
The Blues, who shipped veteran defenseman Wade Redden to the Boston Bruins for a conditional 2014 seventh-round pick that can become a sixth-round pick if Redden plays one or more playoff games, were active with the acquisitions of defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold in recent days. They also announced the signing 2011 second-round pick Dmitrij Jaskin to a three-year entry-level contract.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Omsk, Russia, native Jaskin, 20, played 51 games for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was fifth in the league with 99 points [46 goals, 53 assists]. He will report immediately to the Rivermen.
"Jaskin is an NHL-ready combination of size and skill," Blues director of player development Tim Taylor said in a statement. "His offensive prowess, physicality and hockey sense give him the versatility to play up and down the lineup and contribute in a variety of roles."
Jaskin was the 41st player taken in the 2011 NHL Draft.