Coach’s Corner: Hitchcock was smart to play Allen

Don Cherry and Ron MacLean discuss all the hot topics from around the NHL and 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock made a bit of a bold move when he named Jake Allen the starter prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks.

The decision proved to be a good one, as the Blues left San Jose with a big 6-3 victory to tie up the series on Saturday night.

Count Don Cherry among those who approved the goalie change right from the start.

“Hitchcock made a great move,” Cherry said during Sunday’s Coach’s Corner. “We often wonder, you make moves like that and if it backfires … he made the right move.”

When Hitchcock announced the goaltending change, he made it clear that the Blues’ losses in Games 2 and 3 were not the fault of starting goalie Brian Elliott. The Blues were shut out in both games, and Hitchcock was desperate for something to spark a change in momentum.

“We trust Brian,” Hitchcock said at the time. “Even when there were bumps we trusted Brian. I think this is a little bit different. This is a change in momentum.”

Cherry praised Allen’s performance in Game 4 in which he made 31 saves, and pointed out the clear chemistry the goaltender shares with his defencemen.

“You’ve got to work with the defence,” said Cherry.

“Watch the rebounds,” Cherry continued, noting the control Allen uses when directing rebounds back into play for his blue-liners. “He comes in, does a great job.”

The Blues clearly agree, as they are sticking with Allen for Game 5 in St. Louis on Monday night.

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