Carter Hutton is red hot in goal for the St. Louis Blues. Since taking over the duties between the pipes after the January 9 game against the Florida Panthers, Hutton is 5-1-0. He has a 1.70 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. He currently is the league leader in both categories. He won again on Tuesday.
Carter Hutton is Red Hot in Goal for the St. Louis Blues
Two years ago this coming summer, the St. Louis Blues signed goaltender Jake Allen to a four-year contract extension that firmly cemented his position as the Blues starting goaltender for years to come. At the same time, they signed free-agent backup goalie Carter Hutton away from their Central Division rivals, the Nashville Predators. While the signing of Hutton was a mere footnote relative to the news about Allen at the time, it is Hutton who is now dominating the headlines as we head into the stretch run of the regular season in the NHL.
Off the Bench
During his time with the Blues, Hutton has been a very dependable backup to Allen. He has occasionally, and admirably, filled in for him in specific matchups or in the second of back-to-back games. However, and for whatever reason, Allen’s level of play deteriorated significantly in December. Blues coach Mike Yeo hoped he would play his way out of the funk but, after a 7-4 drubbing on home ice by the Florida Panthers on January 9, Allen was replaced by Hutton. He has started every game since then. To say he has been up to the assignment is a gross understatement.
Leading the League
After Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Scottrade Center against the Montreal Canadiens, during which he made 33 saves on 34 shots, Hutton is now the league leader in both save percentage and goals-against average at .945 and 1.70 respectively. He’s the hottest goaltender in the NHL right now, going 8-1-1 over his last 10 starts. Over the past 3 games, he has stopped 94 of 96 shots. It would seem, for the time being at least, that Hutton has replaced Allen as the Blues’ #1 netminder.
Hutton takes it all in stride. “I’m the same goalie, I’m just playing more,” he observed after the game against the Habs. “When you get a chance to play some games you have to play well. Before I was playing well every two weeks. Now, I’m getting more chances.”
Hutton has definitely made the most of those chances.
The Road Ahead
When pressed for an explanation for Hutton’s remarkable success, Yeo was quick to heap praise on his goaltender. “It’s a mixture of confidence and desire to stay in there,” Yeo stated. “He’s doing a great job.”
Still, the picture going forward remains cloudy concerning the status of Allen. Ironically, his level of play took a similar dip last year around this same time frame. He later came back and was nothing short of invincible in the opening round of the playoffs against the Minnesota Wild, who outplayed and outskated the Blues in every way possible but still could not find a way to solve the Blues’ goalie. St. Louis went on to take the series from the Wild in 5 games and Allen was the series MVP. Allen must, therefore, bide his time, continue to work on his game with Blues goaltending coach Mike Alexander and wait for his opportunity to return to the ice.
In the interim, Yeo will continue to ride the hot hand with Hutton. After all, how does one go about benching the league’s hottest goaltender?