Out of all the goaltenders that joined new teams, Jake Allen has been exceptional with the Montreal Canadiens. General manager Mark Bergevin sent a 2020 third-round and seventh-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for the 30-year old netminder and a 2022 seventh-round pick. It has paid off, as Allen has posted a 2.34 GAA and a .920 SV% in 11 games played.
— Mike Kelly (@MikeKellyNHL) February 26, 2021
The biggest issue for the Montreal Canadiens was Carey Price‘s workload. If Bergevin could add a reliable backup netminder, in theory, that would pay dividends for Price and ultimately this franchise. So he did just that. Unfortunately, Price has taken a step back this season, as he has posted a 2.71 GAA with a .903 SV% in 20 games. He has been on the decline since 2018 and the window for the Canadiens to win a cup is closing rather quickly.
Allen’s play has been good enough to keep the Canadiens relevant in the North Division, as the team currently sits in the fourth seed.
Allen lost the starting gig in St. Louis in 2019, as Jordan Binnington catapulted the Blues from a bottom-feeder into a Stanley Cup champion. The performance displayed was historic, and it would be near impossible for the eight-year veteran to win back the crease. During the 19-20 season, Allen played in just 24 games. This was his lowest mark since his rookie campaign back in 2012-13. It seemed that the lesser workload was beneficial, as he bounced back with a 2.15 GAA and a SV% of .927. Those numbers put him back on the map, but it was his play in the playoffs that made him a hot commodity. Binnington looked lost in net, and Allen stepped in, and in the five games he played (four starts), he posted a lethal 1.89 GAA and a .935 SV%.
The Canadiens knew what kind of goaltender they had acquired and Allen has been as good, if not better than advertised.
Goaltending is one of the more stressful positions in all professional sports. While a player has to have the physical capabilities to be successful a the NHL level, the mental game is just as important. The majority of the netminders above have been unable to shake off past struggles. For Braden Holtby and Devan Dubnyk, their past has carried over to their new teams, and while I am not in their head, the regression we have seen can be attributed to that. Goaltenders like Allen and Talbot have been able to overcome their recent struggles, which has translated to success on the ice.
For all the struggling netminders in this piece, it is not too late for them to leave their mark. The ones that have played well look to keep it up. Depending on where their respective teams are in the standings, the past means nothing. It is what these players do from here on out, game-in and game-out, that will be remembered as we get closer to the playoffs.
What do you think? Comment your thoughts below.