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Allen emerging as starting goalie in St. Louis

by John Kreiser

Jake Allen hasn't wasted any time showing he belongs in the NHL.

St. Louis' second-round pick in the 2008 NHL Draft is turning himself into the Blues' starter in goal -- no mean feat on a team that led the League in fewest goals allowed last season. Since his second call-up from Peoria of the American Hockey League earlier this month, he's gone 5-0-0 to help the Blues shake off their February slump.

That five-game winning streak includes three wins in as many starts last week, during which he allowed just three goals on 97 shots and earned his first NHL shutout. Allen's .920 save percentage is far better than either Jaroslav Halak (.881) or Brian Elliott (.851), and he's giving every indication that he's ready to grab the starting job for a team that has Stanley Cup hopes in the spring.

Jake Allen
Jake Allen
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 8-1-0
GAA: 2.18 | SVP: 0.920
Five up -- Five other players who had a good week:

Marc-Andre Fleury -- No team is hotter than the Pittsburgh Penguins, who enter the week riding a nine-game winning streak. While the Penguins have no trouble putting the puck in the net, they've really taken off since Fleury found his game earlier this month. He went 3-0-0 in three games last week, allowing just three goals on 68 shots, and his 15 wins are tied with Montreal's Carey Price for the League lead.

Chris Stewart -- After a disappointing season in 2011-12, Stewart has improved his conditioning and the results are showing. He had five goals and seven points in three games for St. Louis last week, moving him into the team lead with 14 goals and 28 points in 28 games -- only one goal and two points less than he had all last season.

Sergei Bobrovsky – The Columbus Blue Jackets have points in a franchise-record 10 consecutive games, and they're doing it thanks to the play of Bobrovsky, an offseason acquisition from the Philadelphia Flyers. He went 1-0-2 last week but allowed only two goals on 117 shots. Bobrovsky is 6-0-2 in his past eight games and has lowered his goals-against average from 2.90 to 2.00 in that span.

Curtis Glencross -- The Calgary Flames' return home after a poor road trip to California appeared to invigorate Glencross. He had a goal and an assist against the Detroit Red Wings on March 13 and followed two nights later with a hat trick against the Nashville Predators, scoring on four of his seven shots and going plus-5 in the two games.

Ryan Suter -- The Minnesota Wild spent a fortune to sign Suter to anchor its blue line, and that is exactly what he's done. Suter had five points in the Wild's past two games (both wins), and is second in scoring among NHL defensemen with 23 points in 27 games.

Brayden Schenn
Brayden Schenn
Center - PHI
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 19
SOG: 46 | +/-: -4
Five down -- Five players who didn't:

Brayden Schenn -- The younger of the Philadelphia Flyers' two Schenn brothers was doing fine (19 points in 23 games) until hitting the skids in the past couple of weeks. He's gone six games without a point and is minus-9 during that span.

Joe Pavelski -- It's also been a tough couple of weeks for Pavelski, one of several San Jose Sharks mired in a scoring slump. Pavelski hasn't had a point in five games and has scored just three times since the end of January.

Mikhail Grabovski -- After seasons of 29 and 23 goals (and 58 and 51 points), Grabovski's scoring touch has all but disappeared. He's scoreless with a minus-4 rating in the Toronto Maple Leafs' past four games, hasn't scored a goal since Feb. 25, and has managed just six goals and 11 points in 29 games.

Tyler Myers -- The 2010 Calder Trophy winner never has matched the performance of his rookie season, and his offensive game has all but disappeared. He's gone without a point in nine games despite seeing more than 20 minutes of ice time a night, and the player who put up 48 points as a rookie has managed just four in 27 games so far this season.

Pekka Rinne -- Last year's Vezina Trophy finalist and his Nashville Predators teammates had a nightmarish trip through Western Canada. The Predators lost in Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, and Rinne was hooked in the first two of those games -- he was lifted eight minutes into the game against the Flames after allowing goals on the first two shots he faced.

The week ahead -- It's Vancouver's turn to play five games in a week; the Canucks visit Minnesota and St. Louis before returning home for three games. There will be lots of hockey in Southern California -- the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings both play four home games this week. It figures to be a tough week for a pair of Southeast Division teams; Florida and Washington each play all four of their games on the road, with the Panthers playing three in four days in the New York metropolitan area.

Games to watch:

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay (March 18, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) -- Two teams desperate for points meet at the Tampa Bay Times Forum; the loser will have taken another step toward an early summer.

Washington at Pittsburgh (March 19, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) -- These two rivals are heading in opposite directions. The Penguins enter having won nine in a row, while the Capitals still are trying to get to the .500 mark.

Minnesota at Detroit (March 20, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) – This week's Rivalry Night showdown matches the up-and-coming Wild against the Red Wings, who are coming off back-to-back wins at Edmonton and Vancouver.

Chicago at Anaheim (March 20, 10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) -- The two best teams in the Western Conference square off for the second time this season; the Ducks won 3-2 in a shootout at Chicago last month.

New Jersey at Carolina (March 21, 7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) -- The Devils, who are scrambling to stay in the top eight in the Eastern Conference, are sure to be looking to avenge the 6-3 loss they took on their previous visit to Raleigh.

Pittsburgh at New York Islanders (March 22, 7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, RDS2) -- This is the second game against elite-level teams in as many nights for the Islanders, who host the Montreal Canadiens the night before the Penguins come to Long Island.

Vancouver at Los Angeles (March 23, 4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) -- Boston at Toronto (March 23, 7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC) – U.S. viewers get a Saturday doubleheader matching two of the best teams in the West in the opener and a pair of Northeast Division rivals in the nightcap -- the Bruins-Leafs game also is on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (March 24, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS) -- It's the fourth meeting of the season between the in-state rivals; the two most recent games have been among the most wide-open contests played anywhere this season.

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