The Blackhawks’ Richard Panik entered Monday’s as a goal per game player, but he fell off that pace thanks to the right skate of Flames netminder Brian Elliott.
No single off-season acquisition for any team stood to have quite as much impact as Brian Elliott did with the Calgary Flames.
Over the course of the 2015-16 season, the Flames goaltending situation was atrocious. None of the team’s four netminders — Karri Ramo, Jonas Hiller, Nicklas Backstrom or Joni Ortio — could post anything close to average NHL numbers, and that led to all four finding work elsewhere this season with the Flames going out and acquiring Elliott from the St. Louis Blues.
In no outing thus far has Elliott’s acquisition paid off more than Monday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. In 65 minutes of action, ‘Moose’ stopped 32 of 34 shots and made a number of fantastic saves in the overtime period, but it was his save on Richard Panik in the dying seconds of the third period that even gave Calgary the chance to pick up the shootout victory:
Given how hot Panik has been in the early season, with six goals in seven games, Elliott’s save carries that much more weight. Elliott continued the outstanding play in the extra frame, turning aside the six shots the Blackhawks were able to muster and he held his ground in the shootout until Kris Versteeg ended the game in the shootout’s seventh round.
Now that Elliott has his first win out of the way in a Flames jersey, Calgary will be expecting him to start to turn around his early season struggles, because Elliott’s impact wasn’t all that positive in his first three games. Heading into Monday’s game, Elliott has a 4.72 goals-against average and .839 save percentage in three games, and he had allowed 14 goals across three games.
Elliott’s GAA and SP should level out over the course of the season, though, and he should settle in for the Flames before becoming one of the more steady netminding presences the team has had in the past several years.
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