The St. Louis Blues have developed something of a rite of passage in the spring in which they’re faced with questions about their starting playoff netminder.
This year, they’re getting out in front of it.
Head coach Ken Hitchcock confirmed on Thursday that Brian Elliott is currently the team’s No. 1 and will be when the posteason begins, per the Post-Dispatch.
“Ells is the starter,” Hitchcock explained. “He’ll play the majority of games leading up to the playoffs. We’re on the course that we set two months ago when we made the decision that Ells was going to be the guy and we’re not changing that course.”
Questions were asked about Elliott’s status after backup Jake Allen started each of the last two games, and fared well, allowing just four goals on 51 shots in an OT loss to Detroit and an OT win over Pittsburgh.
Allen, 24, is considered to be the franchise’s goalie of the future and, what’s more, the Blues do have a history of platooning in goal.
Last spring, Ryan Miller — acquired in a trade deadline blockbuster from Buffalo — played in all six games of St. Louis’ opening-round series loss to Chicago. The year prior, Elliott played all six in St. Louis’ opening-round series loss to Los Angeles and, the year prior to that, Elliott, Halak and Allen all saw playoff time as the Blues advanced to the second round.
Hitchcock did keep the door slightly open for a goalie switch should Elliott struggle, but added it doesn’t look like that’s about to happen.
“Obviously if [Elliott] doesn’t play well at all, then we’ve got to reassess it like any team does,” he explained. “[But] right now, he’s showing no signs of letting up.”