Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says goalie switch 'an easy decision'

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The St. Louis Blues are switching goalies in a bid to change the momentum in the Western Conference finals, head coach Ken Hitchcock announced late Friday afternoon.

Hitchcock said Jake Allen will make his first start of the playoffs in the place of Brian Elliott, who was pulled in the third period of Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks after giving up his third goal of the game. The Sharks lead the series 2-1.

Elliott has started all 17 games this postseason for St. Louis and was mostly outstanding in leading the Blues to series wins over Chicago and Dallas in the opening two rounds. He also played well in Game 1 against the Sharks, stopping 31 of 32 shots in a win, but has allowed three goals in consecutive games.

Hitchcock said the switch is as much about changing the momentum and kick-starting his team as it is Elliott's recent struggles.

"Some of it is just changing momentum for both teams, hopefully," Hitchcock said. "Part of it is also the luxury: I've got a goalie who gives a different look. He plays a different style, he's very active in the net, he's very active in moving the puck and getting us started in transition. He's an awful good goalie, just like Els is.

"Els has run us quite a distance here, and we feel that Jake is a guy that can help us change the momentum of the series."

Allen started all six games last postseason for St. Louis. He also played just over two periods in Game 6 against Dallas last round after Elliott was pulled.

Hitchcock downplayed the significance of the goalie switch for Game 4, saying, "Quite frankly, we've had two guys all year, so it might be a story for people, but inside the locker room and for us as coaches, it is kind of an easy decision, probably easier for us than other people because we trusted both guys so much.

"We trust Brian. Even when there were bumps we trusted Brian. I think this is a little bit different. This is a change in momentum. We're playing a team that's got a bead in their game and a focus in their game that's been around for seven games now. We've got to change the momentum here. They've been dialing in with this game for seven games now. I think if we expect to trot out just a little bit better effort and expect to see a change, I think that would be misleading. We're not going to change that. We have to change momentum in a positive way with probably a little more drama to it, and we're going to have to find people who can help us do that.''