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Jake Allen not with Blues to start trip against Jets

GM says goalie, who has been pulled in three straight games, needs to 'reset'

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Goalie Jake Allen is not with the St. Louis Blues to start a road trip that begins Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets (3 p.m. ET; TSN3, FS-MW; NHL.TV).

The decision was made by general manager Doug Armstrong after Allen's recent struggles, which include being pulled from a 7-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday, the third straight start and fourth time in six games he was pulled.

"I don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill," Armstrong said. "We're going to give him a day to reset.

Allen has allowed 10 goals on 36 shots the past three starts (.722 save percentage).

Pheonix Copley was recalled from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Friday. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he has not decided if Copley or Carter Hutton will start.

"Jake's struggling right now and I made a decision [Thursday] night that I think taking a day away and getting a total reset ... he could get a reset traveling with the team, but I wanted a complete reset and when we come back on Sunday, he's back in the net and he's ready to go," Armstrong said. "To me, he's going to take a day to get a reset with his family, just had a young baby, but the play needs to improve and I want to give him a fresh start. ... He practiced today and now he can go home and when we practice on Sunday, be ready to go."

Video: BOS@STL: Allen cuts down angle to snag Chara's shot

The Blues don't play against until Tuesday, when they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins. St. Louis, which led the NHL last season with a .919 save percentage, is last this season at .888.

Allen, who was unavailable for comment, is 17-12-3 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. Hutton is 6-6-2 with a 2.80 GAA and .892 save percentage.

"He's just got to unlock and get playing," Hitchcock said of Allen. "He's a little bit locked up right now. Have to get him unlocked.

"This isn't fixed by drills to be honest with you. ... We'll get a better goalie and he'll feel good about himself, but we've just got to help him unlock it here a little bit."

The Blues (23-18-5) are tied for third place in the Central Division with the Nashville Predators.

Video: CAR@STL: Allen gloves down Faulk's power-play blast

Armstrong was asked if help from outside the organization was a possibility prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 1.

"Jake's our long-term goaltender," said Armstrong, who signed Allen to a four-year, $17.4 million contract this summer that runs through the 2020-21 season. "You make decisions based on a long-term projection. I'm not naive to think that if this continues forever, then it's not going to work out, but I don't think that's going to be the case. We want to support him. We want to give him the ability to have a reset, to come back here and get ready to go."

The Blues committed to Allen on June 24, one week after trading Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames for a pick in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft.

"I don't want to get too philosophical, but you look at a guy like what [Minnesota Wild goalie] Devan Dubnyk did to what he's doing now," Armstrong said. "[Montreal Canadiens goalie] Carey Price is going through a stretch that he hasn't gone through in a while, [New York Rangers goalie] Henrik Lundqvist is going through a stretch he hasn't gone through in a while. This isn't just centered to Jake, but in a team sport, you need everyone pulling the rope and I know he's trying. It's not working for him right now, so we're going to give him a reset."

Copley is 11-4-1 with a 2.32 GAA and .920 save percentage in the AHL this season; he arrived in time to join the Blues midway through practice Friday after flying in from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Video: CHI@STL: Allen sticks with deflection for strong save

"I'm going to just work hard and see what happens," said Copley, acquired along with Troy Brouwer and a 2016 third-round pick from the Washington Capitals on July 5, 2015 in a trade for T.J. Oshie. "... Goaltending is a lonely position. Everyone goes through it. You never like seeing guys struggle. It happens to everybody. You just kind of hope for the best and see what happens.

"Everyone knows only one guy can play. Goaltending's kind of a position where you've got to battle, work hard and everyone knows that."

Bringing in an extra goalie got the attention of the entire locker room, and the message was clear.

"[Management is] not afraid to pull any tricks out of their repertoire and I think you have to remember that as a player, no matter what stage of your career you're in," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "If you're [Vladimir Tarasenko] or if you're Dmitrij Jaskin, it doesn't matter. If you don't perform the way you're asked to, they're going to look to make changes. Sometimes that pressure's good. It's good to have that in your head that there's someone knocking on the door."

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