Brian Elliott

via stltoday.com

has been kinda enjoying a bit of a renaissance this year.  Although it feels like Elliott has been in the league along time, he really hasn’t been.  The goaltender is only 26 years old and on a one year two way deal.  As he leads the NHL in Goals Against Average (GAA) 1.43 and Save Percentage .947, he has played his way to top keeper for the St Louis Blues.

He has earned the trust of Ken Hitchcock as he has been playing the top teams lately.  Now I am not saying Jaro Halak has been playing bad, but the defacto starter had a rough start to the season and has rebounded as well.  Jaro is slated to start the next two games against Nashville and Columbus on back to back nights and starts.  But to get into this a bit further, Elliott has enjoyed playing on a Blues team that is decidedly  better on Defense the his past two teams.

He was drafted in 2003, in the 9th rd.  He made is NHL debut in 2008 with the Senators only playing 1 game making 29 saves, allowing 1 goal.  He would not see any more NHL action until the 08-09 season where he made 31 appearences.  He had a fairly solid season going 16-8 with a S% of .902, with a 2.77 GAA.  Where things got hairy was when Ottawa started losing some of their better defenders to free agency.  He had a fairly solid career in Ottawa, but nothing outstanding.  He never had numbers that would say that he was a starter.

Elliott eventually was traded to Colorado for Craig Anderson.  The situation in Colorado has worsened for Anderson and he was shipped out for Elliott.  That trade by many fans was thought to have been made to let Colorado continue to tank for better position in the draft.  The Avalanche defensive situation was actually worse then Ottawa’s and made for a rough remainder of the season last year.

During the offseason the Blues parted ways with fan favorite Ty Conklin.  Which led most of us fans to believe Big Ben Bishop would get his chance at the show.  What we would find out is that the Blues had other plans and wanted to bring in a goalie with NHL experience to fight for the back up position.  They would bring in Elliott to fight with Bishop.  My way of thinking during the summer and seeing this was disbelief, and not the good kind.  The imagery I had was like what many fans had after seeing what he did in Colorado.

Catching up to this season he did beat out Bishop, and Bishop was pretty outstanding in the preseason.  Elliott began the year on the bench behind Jaro and watched a collapse on a massive level.  Former coach Davis Payne finally put Elliott in net and had an immediate impact.  The Blues began winning a bit.  The issue was it was to little to late for Payne.  I do think Payne lost his job on the heals of Halak’s performance, and the special teams.

Enter in Ken Hitchcock, while he has not admitted Elliott is the number one, what is evident is that Hitch has more confidence in the Moose then he does for Jaro.  Elliott currently is 13-2 with 4 shut outs sitting behind one of the best defenses in the NHL.  The Blues are allowing a rough average of 24 shots per game.  What that does is allow the goalie to gain confidence that what shots do get through are not going to be in prime space (the slot) or allow shots to get through with the D and forwards blocking shots.

It will be shame to see Elliott not start in the All Star game as he is not on the ballot.  I do suggest writing him in as he has deserved it.  I will caution Blues fans clamoring to have him resigned and to trade Halak, because this is his first break out year.  While only 26 it would be nice to see them resign him for a 2 year deal and a relatively low contract.  Definitely give the man a raise but I would be careful to give him more then 2 mil/ yr.  We still have over half of the season left, and alot of time to see whether or not Elliott can hold this up.

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