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Allen feels Blues have unfinished business

Goalie has returned to St. Louis to prepare for playoff tournament

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

Because his hometown of Fredericton, Alberta is so small, there wasn't any ice available for Jake Allen to skate on during the NHL's season pause.

But that doesn't mean he feels completely rested.

"I really felt that hockey was still always triggered in your mind, because you knew it wasn't over. It felt like there was no closure on the season," Allen told on Wednesday. "In (a typical summer), when the season is done, you win or you lose, you forget about it for a couple of months. This (time, it's) when are we playing, what's going on? You're always thinking about it. And a lot of guys probably feel the same way I do. You never really checked out, because there is unfinished business and there was no real closure on it."

Allen kept himself sharp during the break with a baseball pitching machine, which threw pitches at different speeds - fastballs, curveballs, change-ups - that he used to mimic facing shooters. His home gym also had artificial ice that he could use to lace up the skates and "feel the blades, feel the edges," but that was the best he could do.

Perhaps that's why Allen has been thoroughly enjoying his first few Phase 2 practice sessions at Centene Community Ice Center this week.

Video: Jake Allen after Phase 2 workout

"I feel a lot better than I thought (I would)," Allen said. "I've been prepping and doing some specific stuff to make sure this transition (back to playing) hasn't been that hard. As time has gone on, I've realized what I need to do to keep my body ready to rock. We knew it was going to be a short training camp. You're jumping right into it and games are right away."

If the Return to Play agreement between the NHL and NHL Players' Association is approved, training camp would begin Monday and games would resume in two hub cities on Aug. 1 with a 24-team format. The top four teams in each conference are guaranteed a playoff spot and will play each other to determine seeding, while the remaining 16 teams will each compete in a best-of-5 series to determine whether they get to compete for the Stanley Cup.

Allen said he believes that despite the altered format, the Blues have a good chance to repeat as champions.

"We have such a great opportunity here to do something again. It's pretty much the same group and we've had a great season, put ourselves in a great spot," he said. "In this situation, it's definitely different, but we're not the only team in this position. I think we have just as good a chance as anyone else. There's no time to waste though. You need to be ready to go right away. Each team will probably have a different approach, but I think our maturity and our leadership and experience from last year should definitely prepare us right way."

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