With just three games left in the regular season, it seems St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock is no closer to naming a starting goalie than he was three games ago.
Or three weeks ago.
Heck, even three months ago.
To be fair, it’s not an easy decision for Hitch to make. Both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have been exceptional throughout this season and their almost identical workloads suggests there might not actually be a superior choice.
What makes the Blues’ “Ell-ak” combination so intriguing is that you just don’t see a truly equal division of work very often anymore, where neither goaltender plays as many as 50 games, but neither has fewer than 30 starts. The Blues with Halak (45 starts) and Elliott (34) are the only playoff-bound team this year with such a make-up.
Who should get the postseason nod? Should there be a nod at all? Some facts to throw your way…
Elliott: 23-8-3, 1.48 GAA, .943 save percentage, nine shutouts
Halak: 25-12-7, 1.97 GAA, .925 saves percentage, six shutouts
Elliott: 6-foot-3, 204 pounds
Halak: 5-foot-11, 182 pounds
Elliott: 4GP, 1-2, 4.14 GAA, .853 save percentage
Halak: 21GP, 9-10, 2.49 GAA, .923 save percentage
Before we put it to a vote, a note about using two goalies in the playoffs. It’s rarely been a recipe for success in the NHL — an equal timeshare hasn’t been done since Boston’s Gerry Cheevers played eight games and Eddie Johnson seven en route to the 1972 Stanley Cup — but it has been done more recently in the American Hockey League.
In 1995, Corey Schwab and Mike Dunham alternated games through the Calder Cup playoffs (sweeping the final 4-0) and ended up splitting the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as AHL playoff co-MVPs. The River Rats played 14 postseason games with Schwab and Dunham each getting seven apiece.
So, the poll….