When I was brewing this article up in my head(along with this strong as gorilla hand lotion coffee I am drinking), I wanted to coin this as Brian Elliott's "One Last Ride" with the St. Louis Blues. Maybe it's the Fast and Furious 7 viewings this summer that have infused this bald headed not as famous Vin Diesel lookalike to connect any possible dots, or maybe I am thinking long term in the net for the St. Louis Blues. Brian Elliott, after many supposed saviors came and went, is still manning the #1 duties for the Note as 2015-16 unfolds. There's something signature in the mantle he holds and it makes Elliott under appreciated.
"Kid Ellis" or "Moose" or the dude who likes to post hunting and fishing photos in the offseason is a likable guy and the complete opposite of a diva. When the initial savior Jaroslav Halak came into town and tried to hoist the team on his tiny shoulders, Elliott took a backseat and waited for his turn. When that turn came in the playoffs, Elliott started eight games and stopped 90 percent of the shots he faced and posted a 2.37 goals against in falling to the Kings and Jonathan Quick's inhuman abilities.
He posted great stats behind guys like Halak, Ryan Miller and this past season while dueling with young gun Jake Allen. Elliott posted 9 shutouts in 2011-12 with Halak and has 21 in his career with the Blues to go with an 85-48 record, 1.95 GAA and .910 save percentage. He's done all of this while rarely being labeled the guy but remaining the most durable goaltender this team has had in quite some time.
Halak was a gifted netminder but he couldn't stay healthy. Ryan Miller was coined the savior of all things not IMOS, Ted Drewes and Coin Laundry but couldn't dominate beyond a paltry defense in the 2013-14 playoffs. Allen is a talented kid but one who lacks experience and showed his young age last season in the ugly loss to the Minnesota Wild(the first time St. Louis has fought over anything meaningful with Minnesota since the Rams Super Bowl run).
Elliott, for as good as he has been, has only played in a single playoff game the past two postseason rounds. Rarely has he walked into the playoffs as the guy, but something tells me this season will be different. While head coach Ken Hitchcock will love him some wild eyed Allen salmon, he knows that this net belongs to Elliott. Isn't it time the coaches cut the shit and anoint Ells the dude?
For all the people who complain about goaltending(I've grabbed a few plates at that buffet of useless carnage), it hasn't been the thorn in the Blues side in the playoffs. It's scoring goals. The Blues can score enough in the regular season and they take a load of shots, but in the postseason they somehow forget to touch the net. If the Blues scored a little more, the goaltending wouldn't be as magnified. Having said that, it's nice to have a #1 in net with no doubts. The committee act hasn't suited many Stanley Cup winners in the past. The best teams have that one guy in net until death does them apart. Henrik Lundqvist. Carey Price. Corey Crawford(vomit, even though he's been good). I'd like a healthy helping of Elliott in net this season.
After a long wait, Elliott is taking the reins. He is 4-0 with a .918 save percentage and 2.01 goals against. The Blues schedule has been riddled with subpar talent thus far, but wins are wins and a good start is a great way to begin a battle in a high competitive conference. For all the bastards who say calm down about the fast start, I ask them. Would you rather the team be 1-5? I think not. The Blues are playing great hockey at the start and the stability in net is helping.
Sure, Hitch starting Allen tonight in Montreal(where newborns are given hockey sticks and tape) is a mindfuck that isn't easily digestible. Allen hasn't fared well against the Canadiens and they are starting Darth Vader in net in Carey Price. Why not go with your top dog Elliott? Hitch will tell me about being reckless, buying in and probably sound like a Fargo extra talking to me so I'll withhold.
Ells has come a long way from arriving on the Blues doorstep on July 2nd, 2011 for 600,000 Washington's. He's in a the middle of a three year/2.5 million AAV contract that may be his last with the Blues. Allen is chomping at the bit. Jordan Bennington and Phoenix Copley lurk in the next few years as backups at the very least. Things will be getting crowded in net but at last, the Blues are Elliott's team. It started that way last year but he got hurt in early on and didn't do enough to win back the mantle late in the season. Doug Armstrong chose Elliott over Miller after the 2013-14 season so there was a plan. It's finally unfolding.
Does Elliott stay after the 2016-17 season? Hard to say from this vintage point. Depends on how many playoff wins and Stanley Cup trophies he is holding by then.
When it comes to roster moves and the future of a franchise built to win every year, winning determines all. Since he has been here, all Brian Elliott has done is win. It's his team.