Brian Elliott (Dilip Vishwanat/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Elliott was forced to leave Blues practice early Wednesday after taking a shot off the inside of his blocker, but the netminder said he’ll be able to suit up Thursday when St. Louis attempts to lock up home-ice advantage in the first round.
Hug a St. Louis Blues fan today, because he or she might need one after goaltender Brian Elliott was forced to leave practice Wednesday with a potential hand injury. Thankfully, everything looks like it’s going to be just fine.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tom Timmermann, Elliott took a shot off the inside of his blocker early in practice and left the ice before his teammates. He exited to the dressing room and did not return. While the initial reaction for St. Louis and their fans is likely fear that Elliott, who has been outstanding since his return from a lower-body injury, has become the next Blue to hit the sidelines with injury, it appears Elliott will be able to play in tomorrow’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"Totally fine. It happens every day in practice, you're always taking shots," Elliott said, via the Blues’ Chris Pinkert. "You get off the ice and you start hearing from people in Canada who think you're hurt. With all the injuries we have, people get a little sensitive, but I'm all good and ready to go for tomorrow."
Post-practice, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was asked about Elliott and was hopeful the goaltender would be able to play Thursday against the Blackhawks, but said Elliott even having to leave practice was “typical of the way things are going,” according to Timmermann. And Hitchcock is right. With the rash of injuries the Blues have dealt with this season, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before another unfortunate injury strikes.
Elliott’s exit from practice was doubly as frightening for the Blues given it was only Monday that the team announced goaltender Jake Allen, who has shared the net with Elliott this season, would be out for the remainder of the regular season with an indefinite timeline on his return.
“We can’t tell you a time frame because we don’t honestly know,” Hitchcock said of the injuries to Allen and captain David Backes. “Obviously, the sense of urgency with playoffs around the corner is there, but believe me, if they able to play, they’d be playing.”
When Allen was injured Sunday evening against the Colorado Avalanche, third-string netminder Anders Nilsson came in and stopped 19 of 20 shots to secure the victory for the Blues. Elliott wasn’t available because he didn’t travel with the Blues to Denver. The rest day wasn’t said to be injury related, however, and instead was just a night off for Elliott before he suited up Monday against the Arizona Coyotes.
If Elliott were to go down, though, and Nilsson were relied upon as the starting netminder, there would be serious cause for concern in St. Louis. Nilsson, 26, is absolutely a serviceable NHL backup, but his save percentages compared to those of Allen and Elliott don’t inspire confidence. At all strengths, Nilsson boasts a .901 SP and he has a 5-on-5 SP of .912 this season. Elliott has been the best of the three goaltenders with a .931 SP at all strengths and .940 SP at 5-on-5, while Allen’s numbers are .920 and .926, respectively.
While the injuries are worrisome, there is one positive note for the Blues heading into the Thursday. If St. Louis can take one point from the Blackhawks, they’ll officially clinch home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.