“With great power comes great responsibility,” a quote made famous by a Spider-Man comic can be used for many circumstances, one of those is being an NHL starting goalie. As a team’s no. 1 goaltender, a select few carry a huge weight on their shoulders. Expectations are that they stop whatever shots may come their way, and in turn, serve as a catalyst for team success throughout a grueling 82-game season.
For the Philadelphia Flyers’ Brian Elliott, the saying is all too true in the early stages of the season with his mettle already being truly tested.
In the beginning of his third season with Philadelphia, Elliott has had quite the workload. Currently, the veteran goaltender boasts an unusual stat line. Through five games the 33-year-old owns a 4.04 goals against average accompanied by just a .874 save percentage. Starting all but one game for the Flyers so far, he has certainly had his ups and downs.
Tuesday night saw one of the more disappointing outings for the Flyers’ netminder. He was pulled after allowing four goals on 23 shots in a span of just over two periods of play. Luckily, backup goalie Calvin Pickard’s relief effort was enough to propel the Flyers to a 6-5 shootout win over the Panthers.
Taking One for the Team
Elliott’s woes have been present this season, but he’s fared well through some heavy adversity. A glaring problem with the Flyers has been their inability to play well and execute in front of their top goalie leading to his worrisome numbers. As per Jordan Hall of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the team can’t expect the 33-year-old to constantly bail them out with big saves night in and night out.
A big example of Elliott’s trials and tribulations came during Philadelphia’s home opener on Oct. 9 against San Jose. In an embarrassing 8-2 loss for the Flyers, 48 shots had come his way by the end of the night. Currently, Elliott has faced a whopping 151 shots in just five games giving up 19 goals. His goals allowed is the second highest total in the NHL behind Carolina’s Cam Ward, with 21 goals allowed in the same amount of games, yet Ward has a 3-0 record.
Another test of the veteran’s might has been the injuries plaguing Philadelphia’s goalies. Fellow goaltenders Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon, both of whom played games for the Flyers last season, have yet to play in the current campaign. Those circumstances may be warranting Elliott to feel pressured into doing well as the team didn’t have viable backup options coming into the season. Obviously, the goalies from AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, could be utilized, yet they’re needed on their respective squad.
“Waive” Hello to Pickard
Luckily, goaltender Calvin Pickard was brought to the Flyers after being claimed on waivers from the Maple Leafs. For now, it seems as if Pickard will serve as Elliott’s backup. He’s already gotten one game under his belt, defeating the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 10 and backstopping the Flyers to their victory on Tuesday night. The 26-year-old could see a healthy amount of playing time with the injured goaltenders having yet to heal, as well as Elliott possibly being worn down from his team’s play.
Banking on Brian
As the season goes on, Elliott will be tested more and more. A combination of better team play and the ability to stay sharp personally will determine his success as well as the team’s. Hopefully, occasional relief in the form of new and returning teammates will only help his performance. Playing the part of a no. 1 goalie isn’t easy. However, the 33-year-old is expected to hold his own whenever he’s called upon. Elliott’s start has been rocky and only he can make his finish smooth.