ST. LOUIS - To win in a difficult Central Division - and a tough Western Conference, for that matter - Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock believes your goalie has to be your best player.
Lucky for him, Jake Allen has been nothing short of that.
The 26-year-old goaltender has had great success at home this season, posting the League's fourth-best win percentage (.875) with a 6-0-2 record. In addition, Allen leads the League in home goals-against average (1.24) and save-percentage (.953) this season.
"He's been making big saves, making all the saves he should," Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said. "Obviously nowadays teams are so close, so good goaltending can take you a long way."
"When we've started slow and haven't had a chance to get to our game plan, he's been awesome," said Blues forward Kyle Brodziak. "When we're giving up some scoring chances early on, he's been there for us to keep us in the game and let us find our legs and find our game."
For Allen though, it's no big deal. This is the job he was tasked with back in June when the Blues traded Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames and then locked Allen up with a four-year contract extension on July 1.
Video: Allen hopes to stay dominant at home
"He's a good goalie. He's been the story in the three home wins (last week)," Hitchcock said. "He was great when (the game) was on the line. He's kind of the guy we expected him to be back there."
Allen has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his last seven starts, posting a 5-1-1 record. He hopes to build on that success tonight when the Blues meet the Minnesota Wild at 7 p.m. (FSMW, KMOX).
"(They bring) a lot of speed, a lot of talent, four skilled lines that can put the puck in the net," Allen said of Minnesota. "They have good 'D' and a great goalie. We know them well, they know us. Hopefully we can come out on top."
While Allen has been great at home, so have the Blues.
The club shares the fourth-best home record in the League at 8-1-2 and have points in eight straight games at Scottrade Center.
Tonight's game against the Wild marks the beginning of a five-game homestand, the Blues' second-longest homestand of the season. After Minnesota, the Blues will host the Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens before embarking on a four-game trip.
"It's been a great place to play for us this year," Allen said of Scottrade Center. "We've taken advantage of it really well in this building in front of our fans, and we feel really comfortable in this barn. Sometimes you get so much in the comfort zone, you get relaxed and you sort of get a little bit laid back instead of being on your toes all the time. Hopefully that doesn't happen and we're on our toes and ready to go."
"We played very well before we left on the road," Hitchcock said of his team going 3-0 on their last homestand. "We've got to continue to play really well. We really checked well, we managed the puck and we got stronger as the games went on. We played some really good teams: San Jose was on top of their game, so was Nashville. Continuing that program, we've got a big test here tonight."
Video: Blues look to build on success at home
Alexander Steen and Joel Edmundson both skated with the team today in the morning skate. Neither will play tonight, but here's what Hitchcock said about their status:
"I don't know where Steen's at. He's obviously a practice player until we decide he's fit enough to play. Edmundson had a good day today, this is the day we were looking for with 'Eddie' and hopefully he's ready to take that final step and get ready to play for us next week."
- Allen is 3-1-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .929 save-percentage in his last four starts against the Wild.
- David Perron has points in six consecutive games (two goals, six assists) and is looking to make it seven straight just the second time in his career.
- The Blues are 4-2-1 against the Central division this season.