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Being the unquestioned No. 1 ‘just the beginning’ for Allen in St. Louis

St. Louis Blues v Ottawa Senators

OTTAWA, ON - MARCH 1: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues corrals the puck against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on March 1, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

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It’s Jake Allen’s time.


After years of splitting duties, the Blues made moves this offseason to make their goalie of the future the goalie of the present. Brian Elliott was flipped to Calgary at the draft and, shortly after, GM Doug Armstrong signed Allen to a four-year, $17.4 million contract extension.

Shortly after that, career backup Carter Hutton was brought in to be Allen’s No. 2.
“I’ve come a long way since I was 17 years old,” Allen said recently, per the Post-Dispatch. “This is just the beginning. I feel like we’ve got a plan to follow and this is just part of it.”

Allen, who turns 26 in August, will certainly be one to watch next season. The Blues are coming off one of their deepest playoff runs in recent memory -- advancing all the way to the Western Conference Final -- and while Allen was mostly a spectator during that run, it’s now his net.

How much he plays, and how well he handles it, remains to be seen.

In his first three NHL campaigns, Allen’s never started more than 44 games. But it was last year, the one in which he started 44 times, that seemed to confirm he was ready to take the reins -- he posted a .920 save percentage, the highest single-season mark of his career, and racked up six shutouts.

Allen being the No. 1 isn’t the only change in St. Louis.

The club lost its captain, David Backes, to free agency, and also parted ways with standout playoff performer Troy Brouwer and gritty veteran forward Steve Ott. That was all part of a youth movement that pushed the likes of Allen, Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko to the forefront.

Simply put, the Blues are ready to embrace the future. It’s why familiar faces like Backes, Elliott, T.J. Oshie and Barret Jackman are no longer with the club.

Allen says he’s ready to embrace the challenge.

“I want to do my best and I am confident in my ability,” he said. “I just play my game and keep things as simple as they can be. That’s when the results come for me. Fans see results and they support you a little bit more.

“Hopefully my confidence, my ability will turn into wins for our team and the bandwagon will get bigger will as well.”