It would be incredibly hard to fault St. Louis Blues fans for worrying about injuries as the campaign approaches.
Throughout the entire 2015-16 season, it seemed as though the Blues couldn’t avoid injury. At some point in the campaign, almost every single player on the roster had to deal with some sort of ailment, from star forwards to depth defensemen. It was so bad, in fact, that not once during the entire 82-game season did the Blues have their full lineup in tact, and it wasn’t until the playoff opener that St. Louis was able to ice its optimal roster.
Now, with opening night only days away, the Blues may be dealing with an injury of the worst possible kind. During their pre-season finale, St. Louis goaltender Jake Allen appeared to suffer a leg injury, and though he remained in the game for the rest of the opening frame, he was out of action by the start of the second and didn’t return to the bench.
Following the game, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said replacing Allen was a “precautionary” move, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford, but the concern for Allen was ratcheted up when the Blues announced that Jordan Binnington was called up from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
While there’s been no update on Allen, the Blues have to be holding their breath a bit. Allen missed 20 games in 2015-16 due to lower-body injuries, including a knee injury that put him on the shelf for 17 games.
Allen, 26, is set to take over as the Blues’ No. 1 goaltender this season after years of sharing the crease with Brian Elliott, and it was primed to be a big year for Allen after he went 26-15-3 record in 47 appearances with a 2.35 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 2015-16.
St. Louis made it awfully evident that Allen was their future in goal this past summer by shipping Elliott to the Calgary Flames and inking Allen to a four-year, $17.4-million deal. He has big shoes to fill in the St. Louis goal after Elliott’s phenomenal play this past season, and starting the campaign off with an injury would be the absolute worst-case scenario for Allen.
However, if the Blues do have to operate without Allen for a short while, they seem more than ready to do so. St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock called Carter Hutton the best player the Blues have had in training camp, according to Rutherford.
“He's been great at practice, he's been great in the games,” Hitchcock said of Hutton, per Rutherford. “He's just been outstanding, best player. Look, you don't know until a guy has to do it. But if Jake ever got hurt, then there's a lot of confidence in Carter right now.”
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