Allen keeps earning Blues’ No. 1 job, stones Sabres’ O’Reilly with paddle

Jake Allen came into the season as the backup in St. Louis, but he has taken the job from Brian Elliott and keeps making big saves. Thursday night, Allen robbed Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly with a quick stick save.

Though the Blues have had to deal with a season’s worth of injuries before they had even reached the 20-game mark, St. Louis has managed to stay atop the Central Division. Through 20 games, the Blues have 27 points, just five back of the vastly improved Dallas Stars.

One major reason St. Louis has been able to keep pace in the Central is the play of goaltender Jake Allen. Allen, 25, entered the season with some uncertainty about where exactly he fit on the depth chart, but he’s battled against veteran Brian Elliott and it appears Allen is putting his stamp on the No. 1 job more and more each game. Case in point, this stop on Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly.

With the Blues leading the Sabres 1-0 in the first frame, O’Reilly created havoc in front of the St. Louis goal and was able to knock a rebound loose. Allen was out of position when O’Reilly fired the rebound back towards the net, but a quick stick from Allen made sure the puck stayed out of the net:

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It’s hard to believe that in the first eight games of the season Allen played just three times. Since taking over the bulk of the starting duty for St. Louis, Allen has posted three shutouts and improved his goals-against average to 1.91 and save percentage to .935.

Overall, Allen is tied for seventh with nine wins, tied for second in GAA, has the league’s fourth-best SP and is tied for first with three shutouts. He looks to have all the makings of a starting netminder. It doesn’t hurt that the Blues defense has been tremendous in front of Allen, but there’s no discounting how good Allen has been.

A second-round pick, 34th overall, of the Blues in 2008, Allen looks like he could be the No. 1 in St. Louis for years to come.