Elliott to Back Halak – For Now
According to STLToday.com, the Blues have decided to make Brian Elliott the team’s backup goaltender behind starter Jaroslav Halak. As a result of their decision, Ben Bishop has been sent down to Peoria.
If the Blues were planning on making their decision between Elliott and Bishop strictly off their preseason performances, the two netminders made life pretty difficult. Through two games, Bishop compiled a 2-0 record with a 2.00 GAA and a save percentage of .907. Nearly matching his stats was Elliott, who went 1-1 with a 2.03 GAA and a save percentage of .917.
With nearly identical preseason numbers, how did the Blues come to their decision?
In my opinion, it all comes down to experience at the NHL level.
Realistically, Bishop might be a very capable backup at this stage in his career. However, he does have a pretty brief NHL resume and could probably benefit from additional time to develop. Meanwhile Elliott has not only 142 games on his record (130) starts, but he has spent some of his career as the main man in net. This experience at handling regular duties at the NHL level was likely the tipping point in the organization deciding to side with Elliott.
What makes this NHL experience so valuable?
In my opinion, it all comes down to Jaroslav Halak. Overall, last season was a disappointment for Halak which I’m sure you’re aware of. If these struggles flare up it would make sense that the team would rather have a netminder with plenty of experience coming to the rescue for Halak, rather than moving in a netminder that still has plenty of question marks around him. That’s not to say that Elliott is without his own questions, but he does have better experience at handling situations that could emerge if Halak struggles.
However, as the title of this article suggests, this doesn’t mean the door is closed on Bishop for good during the 2011-12 season. With both Elliott and Bishop having two-way contracts, if Elliott struggles you can bet the Blues won’t be shy in giving Bishop a shot. For now though, it appears the man with the mask honoring the Ninja Turtles will be the first option behind Halak.