The St. Louis Blues have advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks, and Brian Elliott is a huge reason why. The Blues goaltender has put up outstanding numbers all year and has kept up that performance in the playoffs so far, further justifying the team’s decision to stick with him as their No. 1 goalie.
Elliott, 30, went 23-8-6 this season with a 2.07 goals-against-average and led the NHL with a .930 save percentage. He finished the season with 26 quality starts and an excellent quality start percentage of .684. The Blues didn’t always trust Elliott the way they finally do this year.
In 2013-14, the Blues traded for veteran Ryan Miller at the deadline because they thought they needed a veteran goalie. Miller put up an .897 save percentage in the first round that saw the Blues lose to the Blackhawks 4-2 after leading the series 2-0. Last season, the Blues went with Jake Allen. He posted a .904 save percentage and the Blues were defeated by the Minnesota Wild in six games.
This season, head coach Ken Hitchcock rolled with Elliott, a former Vezina Trophy finalist in 2011-12, and was rewarded. Elliott made 236 saves, and the Blues were outshot on most nights in this series against the Blackhawks. His robbing Patrick Kane in Game 7 was a highlight reel-worthy save and was just one among many he made this past series.
The Blues still have a long way to go to finally exercise their demons, but their trust in Elliott is well placed and he has responded. In previous years, Elliott only appeared in 15 postseason games for the Blues. This year he has appeared in all seven and has led the NHL in saves while also seeing the most shots against.
If the Blues hope to finally make it to a Stanley Cup Finals, they will need Elliott to be every bit as good as he was in the first round.