It's been quite the turnaround for goalie Jake Allen in recent games, and he'd like to think that five-year-old Mason Gilbert perhaps played a role in helping reverse the fortunes for the St. Louis Blues goalie.
When Allen was going through some struggles recently, including a 1-5-0 stretch from Dec. 30-Jan. 31, with not only his play on the ice, but mentally in his head too. Gilbert, who came to see Allen Monday at the Blues' practice facility at the St. Louis Outlet Mall Ice Zone, recently wrote Allen a letter that his father Scott Gilbert tweeted with a picture wearing Allen's jersey on Jan. 31.
"Dear Jake Allen, you are my favorite player. I hope you win tonight. I know you can do it. You're a great goalie. Love, Mason. I'm five years old."
When Allen spotted the tweet, it was natural to make sure Mason got to fulfill a dream; he's gone 4-1-0 since.
"He sent me a message there and I reached out to his dad and I asked for his address and got something in the mail for him," Allen said. "... That's what it's all about. Any time you can make a kid's day, it's a no-brainer. It doesn't matter what the situation is, when it is, where it is. A soon as I saw him this morning, it put a smile on my face and a smile on his. I'm glad I got to speak to him after."
Mason was sporting Allen's No. 34 jersey in the retro colors of the Blues' jersey worn at the 2017 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic. His mother Robyn brought Mason to practice, where Allen flipped him a puck, signed a goalie stick and his jersey for Mason and took a picture with him.
The two were able to chat inside the locker room.
"What's on your goalie mask," Mason asked Allen.
Allen showed him his white mask with the three Blues logos, a Canadian flag, his dog's initials and his grandfather's initials, then gave it to Mason to hold.
The two talked about the Winter Classic, which Mason attended, and the conversation turned to Allen's teammate Vladimir Tarasenko.
Allen asked Mason if he thought Allen could stop his shot.
"I don't know," Mason said, which drew laughter.
"You don't think so? Come on, I thought I was your favorite player," Allen said to Mason. "I can stop him, but he's on my team, so I don't have to worry about it. Right?"
By Lou Korac. Get the latest Blues News from St. Louis' NHL.com beat writer.
Allen, who went through a stretch where he was pulled in four of six games Dec. 30-Jan. 19, was named the NHL Second Star of the Week on Monday after posting a 3-0-0 record with a 1.00 goals-against average and .967 save percentage, said Mason's message touched him.
During his 1-5-0 stretch from Dec. 30-Jan. 31, Allen allowed 21 goals on 127 shots, an .835 save percentage. Starting with a win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 2, Allen has won four of five, allowing seven goals on 149 shots, a .953 save percentage.
Allen arranged for Mason to come to a Blues game soon and will give him a tour of the team locker room at Scottrade Center.
"It's pretty cool," Allen said. "It shows probably what kind of parents he has, what kind of family he's brought up in. It's really impressive and I think that's really important.
"I believed in myself. I'm glad he was on my side."