I just watched Allen York get his first NHL win as the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Detroit Redwings 4-2. He did a terrific job, stopping 29 of 31 shots and earning first star of the game!
Early on it didn’t look like Allen was going to be tested too much, as Detroit managed only five shots on goal in the first period and eight in the second, few of which were quality shots, but they ramped it up considerably in the third and put another 18 shots on net. NBC’s commentators, Mike Emrick and Pierre McGuire, largely ignored Yorkie in the early going, focusing instead on the Blue Jackets’ surprising dominance of the Redwings offensively. As the game wore on, though, there were moments when he caught their attention with big saves and in the waning minutes, especially after Detroit pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, he was pretty much the focus of their attention and praise. A highlight video of some of his saves can be seen here.
It would be hard to overstate how important Yorkie’s performance tonight and in his two relief appearances in the last few days might be to his future career. I got the sense from the commentators’ early remarks and even from his coach’s post-game remarks that Allen had pretty much fallen off the radar as far as serious NHL consideration goes. And it’s not really surprising because he has literally been all over the place this season, both geographically and performance-wise. He started in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons, then got called up to the NHL and appeared in four games, but then was sent all the way down to the ECHL. His track record for the season reads like this: AHL, NHL, ECHL, AHL, ECHL, AHL, ECHL, NHL, ECHL, NHL, with eight NHL games, five AHL games and eleven ECHL games. And his stats are equally all over the place, with ECHL saves percentages as low as .786 and NHL saves percentages as low as .600 and .750 (both in relief appearances), but also with ECHL saves percentages of .958 and .974 and an NHL relief performance early in the season where he was a perfect 1.000.
In this most recent call-up, however, Allen has been much more consistent – and consistently good! He made relief appearances on March 25th and 26th, putting up another perfect 1.000 SP in the first and a .909 in the second. He was given the start tonight on an emergency basis when usual starter Steve Mason was injured, and rewarded his coach with a .935 saves percentage. Over these last three appearances, Yorkie has a .943 SP and a 1.62 GAA – much, much better than the .837 and 3.79 that he put up in his first five NHL games!
Here’s hoping that this is enough to make the Blue Jackets organization take notice and decide not to write Allen York off too soon. We RPI fans know what he is capable of and I believe the Columbus Blue Jackets are starting to see it now too. Go Yorkie – congratulations on your NHL win tonight, hopefully the first of many!