Earlier this week, we spotlighted how the St. Louis goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak broke a 43-year-old franchise shutout record set by Hall of Famers Glen Hall and Jacques Plante.
Well, Halak and Elliott are at it again.
This time they’ve got former Chicago Blackhawks great Tony Esposito in the cross hairs — by combining for 15 shutouts, they’ve tied the modern-day record for shutouts in a season set by Espo in 1969-70.
More, from NHL.com:
Esposito got 56 goals of support in his 15 shutouts, an average of 3.73 goals per game — and that includes a scoreless tie against Boston on March 11, 1970. By the standards of his era, he wasn’t overworked, facing an average of 28.5 shots in the 15 shutouts. Esposito never faced more than 38 shots or fewer than 21. He faced more than 30 four times.
In contrast, the Blues have provided their goaltenders with just 36 goals in their 15 shutouts, an average of just 2.4 per game (including a 1-0 shootout loss at Los Angeles last week). But they’ve more than made up for any offensive shortcomings with their defensive play. Elliott has faced an average of just 23.1 shots in his nine shutouts, with a high of 37, and saw fewer than 20 in three of the nine. Halak has seen an average of 22 shots in his six shutouts and hasn’t faced more than 30 in any of them.
The shots-faced statistic will likely be the asterisk tagged onto Halak and Elliott’s accomplishments. While it doesn’t completely diminish what they’ve done, it doesn’t bolster anything — Halak’s made just 1060 saves this season (29th in the NHL) while Elliott’s made 860…13 more than Minnesota backup Josh Harding.
The reality is that a light workload, combined with the timeshare situation, has allowed both goalies to stay razor-sharp throughout the year. Which begs the question: Can Hitch keep using Elliott and Halak during the playoffs?
Bernie Miklasz of St. Louis Today thinks he can (and points to historical evidence as proof) but again, there’s more reality to consider. The last legitimate timeshare that won a Stanley Cup was in 1971-72, when Boston used Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnston almost equally throughout the postseason.
And that happened 40 years ago.