The St. Louis Blues made a decision to put Brian Elliott back in net for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. Youngster Jake Allen started in goal the last two games, to a 1-1 record. Elliott has earned his spot as St. Louis’ number one guy through his 17 games played. Head Coach Ken Hitchcock announced the decision to start #1 in net before the team travelled to San Jose.
Hitchcock: “We got the jolt we needed from Jake. These are Brian’s playoffs. We’d like to see him finish the job.” #stlblues
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 24, 2016
It was argued that the move to the younger, less experienced Allen was the wrong one. After all, Elliott has shone as the team’s best player for most of the postseason thus far. Hitchcock said that decision came as he felt the team needed a shift, or jolt, to get them back on track in Game 4.
Mapping out the Move to Elliott
Elliott returns to the blue paint sporting a 2.34 goals against average and a .925 save percentage (third best in the NHL this postseason). He’s a goaltender that has proved to his teammates, they can trust him. Defensemen around the league have touted how faith in their last line of defence, makes a world of difference. There’s less scrambling, less worry, and at times, it may give an extra chance to pitch in and take more offensive chances.
Despite being pulled in Game 3, Elliott’s game was still on point versus the Sharks. It was the second of two games where the Blues were having a very tough time solving the San Jose defence and positioning.
This playoff run by St. Louis would not be as historic or as deep if it wasn’t for Elliott. The 31-year-old ‘tender has not only gained experience through the last month and a half but also confidence. You can see it in the way he plays, sound positional play and quick lateral movement.
Though he has experience, Coach Hitchcock points out Elliott has never been in this position, but they still believe in him:
“For all his career, this has been the first time he’s gone through this, and I think it allowed him to reset it… I think he’s going to be great.”
Hitting the Reset Button
“Resetting” can be a big factor in the playoffs. The Blues have played the most postseason games out of any of the remaining teams, with very little rest. Elliott has been peppered with shots for quite a few games since the playoffs started. He has faced 520 shots so far, the most in the league (partially due to his 17 games played). A couple days of rest could be just what the hockey gods and doctors ordered.
Expect St. Louis to come out firing in Game 6 versus San Jose. With their season on the line, they have no choice. They’ll also be playing for their goaltender as well, a guy who has helped make this unexpected roster go deeper in the playoffs than any other Blues team in history.