Jake Allen Struggling in Peoria
If you haven’t checked out the Peoria Rivermen in some time, you might be surprised to learn that prospect goaltender Jake Allen has had a bumpy start to 2011-12. The Rivermen are hovering around a .500 record and unfortunately, Allen has been on the losing end of a large majority of his starts. Is this an AHL sophomore slump? Or is there something legitimate to worry about here?
First, let’s take a look back at the Blues in training camp. Jaroslav Halak was struggling and the team had no clear backup as Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott competed for the job. I recall bumming around the Internet, gathering various opinions for an article I was writing where I stumbled upon a small minority of fans clamoring for Jake Allen to be the starter – of the Blues. A nonsensical idea, and one that seems even more silly now that Halak is playing well and Elliott has transformed into one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
Obviously, Allen is not ready for the NHL and still needs further time to develop. For the 2011-12 season, he is 1-7-1 with a pretty ugly 3.99 GAA. You won’t win many games giving up nearly four each contest. Most troubling? Allen’s save percentage is sitting at .884% – a mark that is well below the .917% we saw from him in 2010-11. You can blame the Rivermen defense in certain situations but Allen must shoulder the bulk of the blame for his dismal save percentage. His struggles come on the heels of a very promising 2010-11 where his GAA was a fairly tidy 2.52 and gave cause for optimism that the Blues had a real star waiting in the wings.
Before going any further, let me elaborate and state I am not worried about Allen in the least. This is his second full season in the AHL and he is still adapting. His workload has varied as Ben Bishop has stolen the show in front of him (Bishop’s numbers: 11-8-0, 2.36 GAA, .927SV%). With occasional starts it might be tough for him to adapt after enjoying a wealth of time (47 appearances) in 2010-11.
At just 21, Allen has plenty of time to work on his game and strive to one day make it to the St. Louis Blues, assuming the organization keeps him in their ranks. For now, don’t make Allen’s struggles a bigger deal than it should be. He’s going to have ups and downs as he develops into the goaltender we all hope he can be. There will be losses and there will be times Allen looks far from the form that caused the Blues to draft him 34th overall in 2008. The best thing we can do here is allow him to work through his issues, continue to learn and adapt to the game, and most importantly of all, give him time.