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Hard Work Pays Off for Elliott

Friday, 10.28.2011 / 2:47 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
NHL.com
By his own admission, Brian Elliott's battle to win a roster spot with the St. Louis Blues this season was nothing new.

"It's something that I've gone through my whole career," the 26-year-old Elliott said. "In college, I came in and backed up the first two years (at the University of Wisconsin), but I definitely pushed for that starting spot. When I got the chance, I ran with it."

Elliott seems to be running with it again.

After a 32-save performance in the Blues' 3-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, Elliott is 4-0-0 with a 1.59 goals-against average and .950 save percentage, both good for third in the League.

So now the Blues are riding the hot hand -- he'll make his fourth straight start Friday when the Blues visit the Calgary Flames -- although it's not the one they expected.

It was assumed Elliott would be available to occasionally spell Jaroslav Halak. However, Halak has struggled to a 1-4-0 mark with a 3.47 GAA and .835 save percentage.

"Timely saves are something that saves your hockey team," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "The last couple of games, games have been tight or we've gotten out to a lead and we've had to face some pressure.

"It doesn't matter the position. You need to have guys that can step in and perform when needed or necessary or when called upon. That philosophy exists in every position on the ice."

The confidence the Blues have in Elliott, who recorded his 10th career shutout Wednesday, is obvious.

"Ells has been great for us," Blues forward Matt D'Agostini said. "He's made key saves, and when you do that, it just rubs off on the whole team.

"We have two capable goalies in here. We know Jaro is a good goalie and he'll work through it and get back to playing like we know he's capable of."

It's been quite a feat so far for Elliott, who seemed to be regressing last season. He was 13-19-8 with a 3.19 GAA and .894 save percentage for Ottawa before being shipped to the Colorado Avalanche, where he went 2-8-1 with a 3.83 GAA and .891 save percentage.

But instead of wallowing in self-pity, Elliott remained positive and embraced the challenges.

"That's the toughest part, not letting yourself get down or being too hard on yourself, trying to do too much," he said. "When you do that, that's when things get even worse.

"You just put it out of your mind, come every day and work hard. If you think about it too much, that's when you start messing with yourself mentally and ultimately playing poorly. I just tried to come every day, be happy, have a smile on my face and work hard."

That's always been Elliott's blueprint. After Wisconsin, the goalie had to prove himself again with the Sens after being selected in the ninth round (No. 203) of the 2003 draft. However, he became the go-to goalie in Ottawa in 2009-10, posting a career-high in wins (29), as well as a 2.57 GAA and .909 save percentage.

When the Blues presented a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000, Elliott felt it was his best option -- even though there was no guarantee he would be on the team's opening-day roster.

"There were definitely opportunities out there, but things went really quick for goalies," Elliott said. "You kind of just had to make a decision. Teams were waiting on different people to get answers back. Obviously here, they were pretty interested in me. They wanted to get me, and it's nice to know you feel wanted and to be a part of the team."

Still, the line of thought remained that Halak would get the majority of the starts -- up to 65 games perhaps.

That plan has not panned out, though.

"Obviously, it's not the start that I was hoping for, but here we are," Halak said. "I've played five games and I'm 1-4. Obviously I need to work on my game. But it's a long season. It's only October. We've got so many games coming up. You just need to stay positive and work hard in practice."

Halak's time will come again. Until then, he will wait and watch.

"Brian has been playing good for us," Halak said. "He's won some games and obviously (Payne) wants to ride the goalie that won the games for him. We are in a situation that I didn't have a good start and the coach feels more confident with Brian, so here we are. We got a hot goalie, so he deserves to play. I just need to stay sharp in practice, and when I get a chance, try to win the game."

Until then, Elliott will continue to work hard and battle for his team, proving once again that long odds are no match for his work ethic.

"They say it's really hard to come to the NHL, but it's harder to stay," Elliott said. "You just have to work hard and be a team guy.

"As a goalie today, I think you have to prove yourself basically every day you're out on the ice. There's no difference here. I want to be the best that I can be on any given day. It's just a matter of making stops. If you do that, you'll solidify your spot in the League. You'll always go through trials and tribulations. It's just how you handle them and move forward. That describes the type of player you are."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 23 14 4 5 63 56 33
2 NSH 22 15 5 2 62 45 32
3 VAN 22 15 6 1 67 61 31
4 STL 22 14 6 2 59 46 30
5 CGY 24 14 8 2 75 64 30
6 LAK 23 12 6 5 64 53 29
7 CHI 22 13 8 1 66 46 27
8 WPG 24 12 9 3 51 54 27
9 MIN 21 12 9 0 58 48 24
10 SJS 24 10 10 4 62 66 24
11 DAL 22 9 9 4 64 74 22
12 ARI 23 9 11 3 57 71 21
13 COL 23 8 10 5 59 73 21
14 EDM 23 6 14 3 51 78 15

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 22 12 11 15 23
J. Schwartz 22 8 13 9 21
J. Lehtera 21 7 13 12 20
K. Shattenkirk 22 1 16 8 17
A. Steen 22 5 10 1 15
A. Pietrangelo 22 1 10 -4 11
D. Backes 21 6 4 -4 10
P. Stastny 14 3 4 -6 7
M. Lapierre 22 1 4 1 5
R. Reaves 21 3 1 0 4
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 8 4 1 .931 1.82
J. Allen 6 2 1 .920 2.12

 
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