Big Week For Elliott Gets Off to Slow Start
A big part of being a number one NHL goaltender is psychological. If Brian Elliott comes to the rink this morning hanging his head after allowing four goals on eleven shots then there’s slight reason to be concerned.
Every team is going to have a night like the Blues had on Tuesday. They were flat, had no spirit in their game, and you can chalk this up as a team loss.
Don’t forget the Blues put up ten goals in Detroit a few years ago when the Red Wings were considered a favorite in the West.
Again every team goes through it.
Not to excuse what took place Tuesday night but Ken Hitchcock admits he’s slowly seen his club get away from playing the way they need to if they’re going to have success.
Hitchcock calls it individual hockey vs. team hockey and when certain players are on their own program it creates problems.
Character teams stop the bleeding and it will be interesting to see how they respond Thursday night.
In fairness Nashville had a great game plan coming in. They decided early on they weren’t going to allow St. Louis to establish any fore-check. When you don’t fore-check you rarely establish any zone time and Nashville controlled the play most of the night.
If it meant icing the puck Nashville was fine with it. Inside the Predators end the puck was out without any hesitation.
St. Louis is among the most dangerous teams in the NHL when they’re “on the hunt” as Hitchcock likes to say. You allow the Blues to establish a fore-check in the offensive end and it’s going to be along night for the opposing team.
Outside of a few minutes in the second period we didn’t see the Blues establish much presence offensively.
Look people don’t want to make much of it but to me this is a huge week for Brian Elliott. With Jaro Halak out with a groin injury Elliott has an opportunity to step up and stabilize the goaltending position. Everyone always talks about the Blues having two number one goalies, well this is another opportunity for Elliott to make a statement. Albeit for one week.
Hitchcock indicated to me that he has no intention of playing Jake Allen in any of these games. Unless he’s forced to like he was against Nashville.
Not to place all the blame on Elliott but no matter how you dissect it he didn’t get the job done. I’m not really big on excuses. You either play well or you don’t. In this case Elliott wasn’t sharp. The good news for him is that he has an opportunity to turn the page and make amends Thursday against the Red Wings.
The reality is there are some who still wonder who Elliott is as a goaltender. Is he the guy who struggled prior to arriving in St. Louis or is he the goalie who put up a .940 and 1.56 gaa last season?
It would be unrealistic to expect Elliott to repeat what he did last year but there’s something to be said for goaltenders who can play at a high level year in and year out.
Another strong season will prove last year wasn’t a fluke. Personally I’m not sure you can fluke your way into putting together the season he had last year but the goaltending position is evaluated year to year. The proverbial “what have you done for me lately” is certainly in play.
There’s a lot of hockey to be played this season but thus far Ellliott has been just ok. He needs to be better especially this week when the team needs him to play well.
You can’t blame the four goals he allowed solely on him. He was playing the back door on Nashville’s first goal and a deflection off the stick of Alex Pietrangelo led to the puck slipping through his pads.
A turnover followed an over aggressive back-check by Matt D’Agostini led to Rich Clune’s first career goal to give the Preds a 2-0 advantage.
I’m not going to go into great detail on each of the Nashville goals but you get the picture. The Predator’s were the hungrier team and it wasn’t pretty for the Blues.
A defensive meltdown led to Elliott getting caught face down on the ice for a 3-0 Nashville lead.
The fourth and final goal scored on Elliott went off the stick of Roman Polak.
I have always said goaltending is the most unpredictable position in hockey. We’ve seen guys play great only to see their play decline the following year.
As talented as the Blues are they need both goaltenders to play well. The schedule and the competition will only get tougher.
Anyone notice Vlad Tarasenko meeting up with Shea Weber in the corner early in the game?
Everyone on the Blues was a minus except for Jamie Langenbrunner who played just over ten minutes.
It was a quiet seven shots on goal for Chris Stewart.
Goaltender Jake Allen will join me tonight at Johnny Mac’s tonight for Blues Buzz. The show starts at 6:00 and can be heard on am 590 the Fan.
More to come,
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