Blackhawks

Jake Allen emerging as No. 1 goaltender for Blues

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Jake Allen emerging as No. 1 goaltender for Blues

The Blues have been searching for a No. 1 goaltender for years, and they may have finally found it.

After platooning with Brian Elliott during the first few weeks of the season, Jake Allen is 6-1-0 since starting the year with two consecutive losses and has registered three shutouts — tied for the league lead — along the way. His goals against average of 1.79 ranks fourth among all goaltenders while his .941 save percentage ranks third, on pace for career highs in both categories.

[MORE: Blues overcome adversity on and off the ice in win over Blackhawks]

Allen's coming out party started on Nov. 4 when he relieved Elliott and stopped 27 of 28 shots to help the Blues overcome a three-goal deficit and steal a 6-5 overtime victory from their arch-rival Blackhawks at the United Center. 

The former second round pick by St. Louis in the 2008 draft followed that up by posting back-to-back shutouts against the Predators and Devils, stopping a total of 79 shots. Allen had his shutout streak snapped at 170 minutes, 53 seconds when he allowed an early first period goal in a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

In that loss, Allen was yanked with a little more than five minutes left in the opening period after allowing three goals on five shots, although he was not credited with the loss.

But Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Friday afternoon that he's going right back to Allen on Saturday when they clash with the Blackhawks again — this time at the Scottrade Center — which means Allen is being given the chance to solidify his No. 1 spot by proving he can bounce back from a rough outing.

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.