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Players, coaches show support for Allen

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

WINNIPEG - When things aren't going well for a goaltender, people tend to say that he's playing a very "lonely position."

In fact, several players and coaches have used those exact words over the last week to describe how Jake Allen must feel as he struggles to get back to the A-game everyone knows he is capable playing.

But lonely is probably the exact opposite of what he should feel, because Blues players, coaches and management all have his back.

"'Snake's got our support. I think he's one of the top goaltenders in the League," said Blues forward Alexander Steen. "We've given up scoring chances that have isolated him a little bit and that's on us. Right now, it's about building our game back to get him back into a comfortable position in the net again. Individual stuff like that isn't really (very) individual, it's more of a group attitude and what we need to do to get him back to where he was."

Allen won't get the chance to bounce back Saturday in Winnipeg, where the Blues will meet the Jets at MTS Centre, as he did not travel with the team. Instead, he'll stay home, spend time with his newborn daughter and get a chance to take his mind off his struggles at the rink.

Video: Blues players and coaches support Allen

The team has a day off Sunday, but he'll rejoin the club Monday for practice and join them for the remaining two games of the road trip.

"He's going through a tough stretch," said Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong. "But being part of the organization (means) you're there through the thick and thin times. This is (one of those) times. We have faith in him, and I've talked to him about our faith in him. But the reality is, and we all understand it, is its professional sports. You're judged on what happens every night.

"A reset is going to be very good for him right now," Armstrong added. "I know the players haven't lost faith or trust in him, and we haven't. But to continue down the path without some type of conclusion to what we're going through didn't seem appropriate. This gives him time to reflect and get ready to go."

The Blues put a lot of trust in Allen this summer when they signed him to a four-year contract extension and declared him the team's No. 1 goaltender, and that distinction was well-earned. In his Blues career, Allen is 74-37-10 with a 2.44 goals-against average, a .912 save-percentage and 12 shutouts. Despite being just 132 games into his NHL career, Allen already ranks ninth among goaltenders in Blues history with 74 wins and is just one win shy of tying Rick Wamsley for eighth.

Perhaps that's why it's hard to see him struggle - because it hasn't happened often in his NHL career.

"He's like your baby," Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's the guy that's growing up. I was watching him play in Peoria. It's hard on him, it's emotional for us. It is what it is, it's tough watching. But it's fixable. And we're going to get a good goalie at the end, I just can't tell you the time frame (it will take). We're going to get a really good goalie out of this. We'll get him unlocked and away we go."

Video: Armstrong on Blues goalie situation

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