Beyond The Benches

Throwback Interview: St. Louis Blues Brian Elliott

St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott started the 2014-15 season in a winning fashion.  The Newmarket, Ontario-native won his fifth contest and fourth consecutive game against the New York Rangers Monday night.  Elliott’s 36-save performance allowed the Blues to rally back in the third period to an eventual shootout win.

The Blues faced the New Jersey Devils in the second of back-to-back games. Elliott was given a day of rest the following night when the Blues and backup goaltender Jake Allen pitched a shutout to give St. Louis a 1-0 victory.  Beyond The Benches was able speak with Brian Elliott after his night off during the 2014-15 season.

Beyond The Benches:  Monday night against the Rangers you had a strong game.  Four straight wins, your numbers are up, how do you feel thus far?

Brian Elliott: Pretty good. You saw it tonight, again, the guys had some huge shot blocks.  They’ve been doing that all season, so it makes our job a lot easier.  You try to come into the season seeing the puck well and [we] had some good practices. That’s two [wins] in a row for Jake [Allen]. We take pride in trying to make brick walls back there, so it’s been good as of late.

BB:  This offseason you saw Halak move to the New York Islanders, Miller went to the Vancouver Canucks.  You’re obviously going to get more playing time than last season [36 GP]. Have you done anything different to prepare for that?

Elliott: You always try to get better during the offseason.  I tried to work a little bit harder in the weight room, get your conditioning up to prepare yourself, but you do that every year. So you basically try to keep it the same, same mentality.  Anytime you get an opportunity you want to take advantage of it, so that’s the way I’ve approached this season as well.

 

BB: With Jake Allen here and yourself, is there an optimum number of games that you want to play? Do you need to be playing a certain number of games to get in the right mindset?

Elliott: It’s not up to us to begin with.  Yeah [there is], to a point.  Nowadays you need two guys that can go in, the schedule is so tough that if you go back to back games, three games in four nights, it’s going to be tough on you mentally and physically.  It’s up to the coaches how we handle that, but if you play well, you’re usually back in.

BB: High expectations on St. Louis this year as there was last year.  Now that you added Paul Stastny and players are getting healthy, how do you see the Blues stacking up in the Central Division?

Elliott: I really take one game at a time.  I don’t really look at the end of the season [to] where we want to end up. I think you just want to be playing your best hockey and just keep getting better every game and I think it will all shake out in the wash at the end. But I don’t look at standings, I don’t look at anything [like that]. I look at it a day at a time, try to get better, and win that next game.

 

Ken Hitchcock and others have described the goaltending duo of Brian Elliott and Jake Allen as the best in the NHL.  While Elliott may be the “starting goalie”, it may be more accurate to call them a “1-A, 1-B tandem”.  Allen may be one of the most capable backup goalies in the NHL and will surely be a starter in the near future.

Allen’s early season statistics are remarkable.  The rookie goaltender is boasting three wins in four games with a .959 save percentage and a 1.00 goals against average.  Although those numbers are not likely to last throughout an 82-game schedule, he is not showing any weaknesses in his game.

Brian Elliott will try to extend his win streak to five games in his next start. Elliott and Allen could make a run for the William M. Jennings Trophy (goaltender(s) with fewest goals allowed during the NHL regular season).  The Blues currently have the third fewest goals allowed, trailing only the Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers.  However, to Brian Elliott, the next game is all that matters.

 

(Disclosure: Interview originally published during 2014-15 season)