Brian Elliott, goaltender for the St. Louis Blues, is putting together a Vezina Trophy worthy season but missing practically all of December may cost him his shot at the hardware. His line is outstanding (16-5-2, .929SV%, 1.95GAA) but fellow net minders Pekka Rinne (NAS) and Carey Price (MTL) may have built leads too big for the former Wisconsin Badger to overcome.
After being named the Blues #1 goalie coming out of training camp and an 8-4-1 start to the season, Elliott went down with a knee injury November 25 in the second period versus the Ottawa Senators. He’d stopped all 16 of the shots he’d faced to that point before a scrum in his crease caught him in an awkward position.
Slow to get up, Elliott tried skating it off but simply couldn’t continue and was visibly upset as he left the ice. He would miss fourteen games, not returning to action until December 30 as the Blues visited division rival Nashville.
In that first game back, Elliott was treated very unkindly by the home team (and his defense!) as St. Louis allowed a season high 47 shots on goal. He would stop 44 shots while taking the 4-3 loss, but he did blank the Predators on 9 Power Play shots and he’d go on to lose only once in his next ten starts, including a spectacular performance in last night’s 2-1 Overtime victory versus Eastern powerhouse Tampa Bay. Stopping 30 of 31 shots by the Lightning served to improve his NHL leading GAA to 1.95.
Since joining the Blues prior to the 2011-12 campaign, Elliott has put up some flashy overall numbers, with a 71-19 record, 1.88 GAA and 19 shutouts, tying him for the franchise record with the man he won the Jennings Trophy with in 2012, Jaroslav Halak. After the failed Ryan Miller experiment last year the Blues handed Elliott the keys prior to the beginning of this season and he’s responded by becoming one of the most consistently outstanding goaltenders in the league. As proof he was named an NHL All-Star last month, his second ASG appearance.
The early front-runners for the Vezina this year are clearly Rinne (29-6-2, .981SV%, 1.96GAA) and Price (27-11-2, .932SV%, 2.06GAA) and with those numbers may be out of Elliott’s reach, even with Rinne now injured. I’d bet if you asked him though, Elliott would reply that the Blues winning the Stanley Cup is all that matters to him. Last night he carried the team through 55 minutes, keeping them in the game with save after save. Even if they’d lost 1-0 it would’ve arguably still been his best performance of the season, yet Elliott called it a “team win.”
We all saw the game, Brian. We all saw it.