Back-up goaltender Brian Elliott has demonstrated his value to the Flyers during the first half of the season while starting goaltender and expected long-term solution Carter Hart has struggled to find ideal footing up to this point.
Elliott, who will turn 36 in just a few weeks, has posted a 7-3-0 record with a 2.45 GAA and a .911 save% in 12 total appearances.
Elliott’s numbers outweigh Hart’s in every major category. Although this reality is not ideal for the Flyers, it also emphasizes the reason they retained Elliott this off-season.
The Flyers inked Elliott to a 1 year, $1.5 million contract in October, prioritizing the relatively inexpensive veteran backup as a complement to the 22 year-old Hart. General Manager Chuck Fletcher acknowledged Elliott as “an important part of our leadership group” following the signing.
Elliott, who spent the most productive five year stretch of his career with the St. Louis Blues, provides a calming veteran presence in the crease. He has posted two shutouts this season, the 41st and 42nd of his career.
The first came January 19th against the Buffalo Sabres. The Flyers, coming off an embarrassing 6-1 loss to Buffalo the previous night, benefited greatly from Elliott’s steady play between the pipes. He blanked the Sabres again on February 27th in a dominant victory in Buffalo.
Elliott had his only lapse this season in Pittsburgh last Saturday. He allowed a light flare dump on net by Penguins center Zach Aston-Reese by him for the tying goal in the closing minutes of the 2nd period.
The goal shifted momentum in a game the Flyers would like to have back. Elliott stopped 23 of 27 shots in a losing effort.
Although the Flyers hope for Carter Hart to carry the load down the stretch, the condensed NHL schedule will force head coach Alain Vigneault’s hand and provide Elliott with plenty of opportunity to play during the second half of the season.
“The Moose” will play a significant role as a back-up goaltender moving forward, and the Flyers would be more than happy if Elliott maintains the same level of play.