Heading into Wednesday night’s road contest against the Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues’ goaltender Brian Elliott carried a 3-6-2 record against his team’s former division rival.
Yet, this history did not appear to affect Elliott, who blocked 29 of 30 shots at Joe Louis Arena and finished less than three minutes shy of his first shutout of the season.
“We’re playing well, even if we’re giving up a lot of shots,” said Elliott following Wednesday’s 2-1 victory against the Red Wings.
Elliott’s presence became critical for the Blues when third-year goaltender Jake Allen went down with an injury against the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 8. Despite losing this effort in relief, Elliott has helped the Blues maintain pace within the standings with wins in five of the last six games, allowing no more than three goals in each of the efforts.
Most notably, the veteran backstop collected a statement victory during St. Louis’s Goalies Night last Saturday. Following a pregame ceremony that honored six former goaltenders from Glenn Hall to Martin Brodeur, Elliott rose to the occasion with 46 saves, providing momentum for the Blues en rout to a 4-3 overtime victory against the Montreal Canadiens.
“It was special for me to play in front of those guys,” said Elliott after his fifth career win against Montreal on Saturday. “I watched a lot of games, outside playing street hockey pretending I was them a lot of years. For them to be here and watch this game, it meant a lot to me.”
When Elliott signed a one-year contract with the Blues to start the 2011-12 season, it was difficult to determine what type of responsibilities he would carry with the team. However, a signing that once proved to be a gamble for the Blues has not only guided the team reach playoffs in four straight season, but has also helped Elliott become St. Louis’s all-time shutout leader (21) and a two-time NHL All-Star.
In fact, Elliott has reached record-breaking heights in his five seasons with St. Louis by adapting to various levels of competition and adversity. As the primary backup for Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Miller and Jake Allen, Elliott has gained respect amongst his teammates and coaches for his consistent under-the-radar contributions.
“Elliott is taking advantage of a situation thrust upon him,” said Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock earlier in the week. “His competitive level is as high as I’ve seen.”
Elliott’s next two starts will likely come against division rivals, as St. Louis continues their three-game roadtrip with weekend matchups against the Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks before an 8-day hiatus that runs through the NHL All-Star break.