St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott is NHL’s Rocky
The NHL always features at least one goalie that turns from bum to playoff hero. You can make a case that Tampa Bay goalie Brian Bishop was that guy after beating the Detroit Red Wings in five games but he’s always been good.
A more compelling story is happening in St. Louis where goalie Brian Elliott turned from nobody into a decent goalie. His team eliminated the tough Chicago Blackhawks in the opening series of the Western Conference playoffs to set up a showdown with the high scoring Dallas Stars in the quarterfinals.
If you’ve never heard of Elliott there is no shame. He only played in the series because of an injury to Jake Allen, but he made the most of it. He shined in just his 18th career playoff start and his first in three years. Of course, he took the high road and credited his defense with stellar play but Elliott held off the attacking Blackhawks, who were the No. 6 offensive team in the NHL.
“I think we have a calm force back there throughout our whole D lineup,” Elliott told St. Louis Today. “It creates confidence with myself and with the forwards as well. Someone makes a mistake and those guys are going to be calm and big and have good sticks and defuse situations.”
He made the big stops in the big moments. Elliott allowed just four goals on 81 shots (.951 save percentage) in the third periods and overtimes in this series and two of the goals came on the power play. No moment was bigger than when Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook hit both posts with a shot and watched helplessly as the puck lay in the crease.
Chicago was in a position to tie the game but Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo got his stick on the puck a split second earlier and launched it out of harm’s way.
That shot came with 3 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in regulation in Game 7 as the Blues clung to a one-goal lead.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
“I got it right at the last second,” Pietrangelo said. “A half a second later and it is in the back of our net. I said to (Elliott) he’s been so good to us all series that was one way to bail him out. He’s done more than that for me than me helping him on that one.”
Elliott is a modern day Rocky. During the regular season, he posted a 6-10 record with a sub-par .897 save percentage. In the opening series, he posted 2.40 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. Next, he faced the most dangerous offense in the league in Dallas.
“I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody right now,” Elliott said. “I’m just trying to be the rock for the guys back there. Like I’ve said before, let them do their work and just give them a chance every night.”