Of all the teams that would lose their starting goalie, the St. Louis Blues seemed the most well-equipped to roll with the punches (with the possible exception of the Vancouver Canucks’ voluntary swap, as we’ll see tonight). Brian Elliott justified such a notion in Game 2 on Saturday, continuing Jaroslav Halak’s shutout bid once the Blues’ more well-compensated netminder went down with a mysterious lower-body injury. The Associated Press reports that Elliott will get the start as the series shifts to San Jose, too, although one can only speculate if that’s matter of performance or Halak’s ill health.
Considering the amazing numbers Elliott put together in his opportunities, Halak’s injury might push Ken Hitchcock & Co. to the best decision to give the team a chance to go deep. While it’s easy to see why Halak’s style seemingly gives him a higher ceiling, Elliott’s positioning and size might actually be a better fit for the Blues’ suffocating system.
That’s especially true against the volume-shooting Sharks, who might just end up having a tougher time against Elliott.
(Honestly, it’s hard to say with certainty, though. Both netminders put up great numbers and each earned two victories against San Jose this season. Feel free to weigh the pros and cons of the two in the comments, much like you surely did in this poll.)
H/T to Rotoworld.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ playoff goaltending outlook seems like it’s on an unending seesaw this season. First, it seemed like Ilya Bryzgalov would be a huge free agent bust. Things started to turn around and then his work skyrocketed in March, earning him the first star of the month. Just as life was looking good, Breezy got an injury that sure didn’t sound like something you’d come back from in little time.
Maybe he shouldn’t have.
Always-sunny Philly fans serenaded Bryzgalov & Co. as they left the ice after a tough first period as the New York Rangers opened up a 4-0 lead. Bryzgalov allowed a Ryan McDonagh goal at the 6:25 mark of the first period, Brian Boyle’s 10th of the season about five minutes later and then two power-play goals 36 seconds apart late in the first.
Peter Laviolette faces an interesting decision in the first intermission. He could either sit Bryzgalov and give him the chance to gather his bearings in one of Philly’s other final games or insert a little stubbornness into the scenario by trying to let him fight through it.
What would you do with the notably … different goalie if you were him? It’s also hard to avoid asking one other question: will Philly face another netminder conundrum in the playoffs?
On Monday night, Ken Hitchcock admitted that the St. Louis Blues’ starting job is fair game. Deep down, the Blues brass might really want big-money goalie Jaroslav Halak to take it, but All-Star backup Brian Elliott is making it incredibly difficult to count him out with three straight shutouts.
The latest one happened tonight as Elliott stopped all 24 Nashville Predators shots as the Blues won 3-0, giving them an eight point lead over the Detroit Red Wings and a nine-point margin in front of Nashville for the Central Division title. (Yup, that’s about as close to “clinching” it as you can get.)
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Amusingly enough, Elliott’s first shutout didn’t result in a win as his shutout wasn’t as good as Jonathan Quick’s in a shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings on March 22. Even so, Elliott turned aside all 81 of the shots he’s seen in the last three games with a 186 minute and 33 second streak. That obviously makes it really, really hard for Hitchcock to deny him the playoff throne.
Here’s an interesting twist, though: Lou Korac reports that Halak will get the nod on Thursday.
It’s not a crazy choice because it gives Elliott a breather, doesn’t make things too hard on Halak and acknowledges the Blues comfortable playoff positioning, but it certainly opens the door for more “maybe too much of a good thing” material. For example: what happens if Halak gets a shutout of his own?
I know what you’re saying: poor Ken Hitchcock.
In all seriousness, though, who would you go with: Elliott or Halak? Or would you dare to continue the competition even as the playoffs begin?