Considering how much a hot or cold goalie can swing a game, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the story of Brian Elliott‘s season feels a lot like the Philadelphia Flyers’ story as a whole.
It’s been difficult to get too high or too low regarding Elliott’s debut season with the Flyers. Instead, there’s a frustrating streakiness once you delve deeper into the totals (19-11-7 record, 2.77 GAA, .908 save percentage).
Elliott, 32, almost seems like two goalies in one. There’s the abysmal netminder in October (.884 save percentage) and January (.874), versus the guy keeping the team in games in November and December (.920 and .927 save percentages in those respective months).
His team has been streaky in the standings, as they currently hold a playoff spot despite a 10-game losing streak … which was, naturally, followed by a six-game winning run.
For what it’s worth, the Courier Post’s Dave Isaac reports that the Flyers believe that Elliott will make a difference in his expected return to the lineup on Tuesday after missing three games with a lower-body injury.
“(Michal Neuvirth and Alex) Lyon did their best for what they can do and I think obviously having Moose back is going to bring our game up a level,” Shayne Gostisbehere said. “Neuvy and Lyon did some good things for us, but Moose is ready.”
During their current four-game losing streak, the Flyers have fired more shots on goal than their opponents in every contest, sometimes by a significant degree. Maybe some of that boils down to “score effects,” but such play makes it easier to understand why there might be some relief with Elliott coming back.
If recent history repeats itself, then watch out.
As bumpy as Elliott’s lone season with the Calgary Flames was, check out his work before last season’s All-Star break and then afterward:
Before All-Star break: 9-12-2, .892 save percentage, 2.88 GAA and zero shutouts in 24 games.
After All-Star break: 17-6-1, .924 save percentage, 2.24 GAA and two shutouts in 25 games.
That run helped the Flames salvage a playoff spot in 2016-17. It wouldn’t be easy to duplicate such work again this season, but it would also be foolish to count Elliott out. He might just be the key to the Flyers settling down and finally going from streaky to reliably competitive in the tight Metro races.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.