One would think that the St. Louis Blues wouldn’t be in that bad of a situation when one of their goaltenders gets hurt. Jaroslav Halak can’t play? Ok, well, we’ll go with Brian Elliott then. Unfortunately for the Blues, the other half of their 2012 William M. Jennings Trophy-winning duo has struggled in the past two games, and with Halak not expected back until at least Saturday, is cause for concern.
Elliott was pulled in what ended up being a 6-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, and was in net for three Detroit Red Wings goals on Friday after Halak left with an injury. Halak’s injury is listed as the ever-vague “lower-body injury,” believed to be groin-related. As the Blues prepare to face the Red Wings again, they can ask Mike Babcock what a seemingly-minor groin injury can end up doing to a team. The Wings have been without backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson since a groin injury in the season-opening meeting between the two teams, which has forced Jimmy Howard to start nine straight games.
Elliott was an extraordinary complement to Halak last season, winning 23 games and posting a 1.56 goals against average (which led the league) and nine shutouts. This season he has come back to earth a bit, with a 3-3 record and a 2.00 GAA. The Blues recalled Jake Allen from the AHL Peoria Rivermen to serve as backup while Halak is out. Allen’s relief appearance Tuesday night was just his second taste of NHL action (one appearance in relief during 2012 playoffs), and he stopped six of the eight shots he faced.
The Blues had a great 2011-12 regular season, and saw things fall apart in the playoffs when Halak got injured. Elliott is a very capable goaltender, but seems to fold when called upon to be the team’s top option. With limited options if he can’t answer the bell, the future of the Blues’ season may hinge on a speedy return by Halak.