Despite Brian Elliott’s unlikely All-Star bid, paycheck politics and a hot run under Ken Hitchcock implied that the St. Louis Blues’ starting job would go to Jaroslav Halak. Yet after back-to-back shutouts, Elliott pushed that positive goalie “controversy” to the forefront again, but Hitchcock told Jeremy Rutherford that he’s in no rush to name a No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s a good problem to have, but it’s one that I’m putting off until the last possible moment,” Hitchcock said. “To me, I’m going to wait until the playoffs start before I make that determination. I just feel like I owe it to both guys to continue to play both guys.”
“I expected a month ago that this thing would kind of air itself out and we’d figure out something. But it has not. I wouldn’t say it’s more complicated, it’s a good complication. But they’re making it hard on me because both guys are playing so good.”
Let there be no doubt about that.
Elliott is atop the NHL in GAA with 1.52 and is also leading everyone in stats nerds-approved save percentage with a stunning .941 mark. Halak’s overall numbers aren’t as out-of-this-world, but he’s easily been in stride with Elliott since Hitch came along after struggling before the coaching change.
Deep down, it seems like most NHL teams generally prefer to start their big money guys. It makes the GM feel all warm and fuzzy (and smart) while that guy tends to come in with bigger credentials – whether it be a higher draft pedigree, a more impressive resume or both.
Still, Elliott’s done just about anything a person can do to earn a starting job this season, so which guy would you go with if you were Hitchcock? Is he making the right move by waiting to name a No.1 netminder? Do tell.