ST. LOUIS - For the first time in his NHL career, Brian Elliott is entering the season billed as a team’s No. 1 goaltender.
Most goalies might alter their offseason training, put extra pressure on themselves or reconsider how they approach their preparation all together. But Elliott?
Nah - just business as usual.
“I don’t think it’s that much different than the past three years,” Elliott said Thursday. “I’ve always trained to be the No. 1 guy. You’re selling yourself short if you don’t. There’s a big opportunity for me right now and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think we’re going to be a really good team and I want to be a big part of that.”
Elliott arrived in St. Louis on Wednesday and was on the ice this morning with several of his teammates for informal workouts at the Ice Zone at St. Louis Outlet Mall. He enters the season on year one of a new three-year deal he signed in May.
“It’s nice to get the contract done early in the summer,” Elliott said. “It was good to have that confidence shown by management and the coaching staff that they wanted me back.”
And why wouldn’t Blues management show that confidence? In 2011-12, he set a single-season franchise record in save percentage (.940), goals-against average (1.56) and shutouts (9) en route to claiming the Jennings Trophy with Jaroslav Halak. Last season in 31 games, he posted an 18-6-2 record along with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage.
“This is Brian Elliott’s job. He’s earned it,” Head Coach Ken Hitchcock said earlier this summer. “When we traded for Ryan Miller we were obligated to give Ryan every opportunity, but nobody lost sight of how good Brian Elliott was the whole year.
“This is the first time Brian gets to carry the ball for a little awhile and I think you’re going to see Brian play better because he knows he’s going to be really counted on now,” Hitchcock added. “I look at Brian as No. 1. Whether Jake (Allen) is a 1A or a 2, we’re going to find that out, but right now, Brian is No. 1 and our hope is Jake is 1A.”
Said Elliott, “Titles haven’t meant anything to me in the past, so they’re not going to mean anything now. I’m in that position where I do have the most experience now, and you want to set an example and put the bar high and try to reach it.
“You look at everywhere around (the League), you’ve got to perform. The younger guys keep coming up, they’re not stopping, and you’re not getting any younger. It’s always trying to push yourself, and when you have good people around you, they push you as well. It’s a good combination.”
Overall, Elliott is 55-24-7 as a Blue, and his 16 shutouts in that time not only lead the League, but are tied for second all-time in Blues franchise history.
But it’s not about personal records. Elliott has his sights on a bigger team goal.
“The sky’s the limit. You have to believe that with the way we’ve played the past few seasons,” Elliott said. “The (only) limits are what you put on yourself. To be one of the top teams, you have to believe you’re one of the top teams… Getting older and getting more experienced, I think I’m more ready for that (No. 1 goalie) pace and workload. I want to show that I can do it.”
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