It’s no secret that a good goalie leads to good things for a team. As Flyers fans we have been waiting for a goalie that we can lean on, and it seems we have one right now The thing is that it’s not our young, promising Carter Hart, but 35-year-old Brian Elliott. It’s also no secret that Hart has been awful this year. No, that does not mean we give up on him. I’m not going to go into what is going on with Hart this season, although I do have my theories. This piece is about Brian Elliott.
This season, in 6 starts, Brian Elliott is 5-1-0 with a .937 sv%, a 1.83 GAA, and 2 shutouts. He has also had to come into the game to relieve Hart twice, both times being after Hart let in 6 goals, both times watching the 3rd on the bench. The Flyers as a whole have been pretty mediocre and inconsistent, besides JVR tipping in goals at the front of the net. Every time Elliott has payed he has let in 3 goals or less. That’s good. But him being the best part of our team is a bad thing, too.
We have seen before how having a good backup can pay dividends for teams going for a deep run in the playoffs. Hell, we have to just look back to this past Cup Final to see Anton Khudobin step up after starter Ben Bishop went down with injury. And not too long ago, even though it feels like an eternity, Boucher and Leighton stepped up after Ray Emery was sidelined. It is great to have a guy that we aren’t all shitting bricks about being in net when Hart has a bad night or needs rest. Elliott is doing exactly what he was brought back to do and that is to be a solid net presence. I wasn’t expecting Brian Elliott to be stealing games for us, at least more games than Hart, but here we are. Elliott has shown that being a backup is where he’s best suited at this point in his career, and that’s great.
First point: THE GUY WHO PLAYS THE LEAST AMOUNT OF MINUTES PER SEASON SHOULDN’T BE YOUR BEST PLAYER, PERIOD!!! It shouldn’t take a lot of thought to realize that your best player shouldn’t be the guy that is expected to go onto the ice less than half your games. Imagine if Connor McDavid was benched for almost 65% of the season; the head coach would be fired. I know it’s different for players and goalies, but still. Hart is expected to start most games this season, and next season, and the one after that, and so on. Brian Elliott wasn’t brought back with the intention of him starting too many games. Brian Elliott should NOT be our best player. Even big guys like Couturier and Provorov, who have been really consistent for a few years, haven’t been as consistent as we would’ve liked this season. Even Hart was consistently amazing, albeit really just at home, but now Brian Elliott is the guy that is consistently great this year.
This is NOT an article about Hart not being the future of this team. No, I do not want to make the 35-year-old backup our starter, although, I am not opposed to starting him more right now. The good outweighs the bad in this situation, but we cannot overlook the fact that our backup is the best Flyer this year, as of February 28, 2021.
By Noah Caplan (@Phlyers24)
Pic creds: NHL.com