Brian Elliott needs a break – and deserves one.
The Flyers goalie has latched the team on his shoulders and carried them the entire month of December. He has made eight straight starts, including one set of back-to-back games, in the last 17 days and started 11 of the team’s last 12 games.
When asked on Monday following a 4-1 loss to the Kings if he needed a day off, Elliott side-stepped the issue.
“That’s not a question for me. That’s a question for the coach,” Elliott said. “Like I said, I will take the opportunity [to play] anytime I get it.”
Elliott was forced into non-stop duty when backup goalie Michal Neuvirth suffered an injury last month and the Flyers recalled Alex Lyon from the Phantoms. Since Lyon has little NHL experience and the Flyers can ill-afford to give up points, Elliott was thrust into the everyday role.
“Our team has confidence in him,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s a real position of strength for our bench and for the guys that are out on the ice. It’s not just the things that you see on a nightly basis on game nights. Brian does such a good job on a daily basis of approaching his day of work.
“I think that is something guys can feed off of. They know he does the work. He is prepared. I think that gives everyone a level of confidence.”
Lately, the results alone have given the team confidence.
Despite the workload, Elliott went 6-2 during the stretch and was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for the week of December 4-11 and then followed it up last week by being selected as the Second Star of the Week. Sandwiched in between the two losses were six straight wins, where Elliott posted a 1.48 goals against average and .949 save percentage.
In 25 starts this season, Elliott, who recorded his 200th career win on Dec. 7 in Vancouver, is 12-7-6 with a 2.66 goals against average and .913 save percentage.
While Elliott has been on a roll, the Flyers need to resist pushing the 32-year-old veteran much further. Too much ice time could result in fatigue or injury.
Fortunately, relief is on the way.
Expect Elliott in net for Wednesday’s home tilt with the Red Wings but Neuvirth is set to return this week. Elliott and Neuvirth will probably split games on Friday and Saturday against the Sabres and Blue Jackets, respectively.
“Brian’s been good from day one so he’s an outstanding pro,” Hakstol said. “He shows up and he does his job and he does it very well for our team.”