Brian Elliott was brought into Calgary this season to solidify the Flames’ problematic goaltending situation, but it hasn’t happened.
As the NHL regular season heads into final two full months of the regular season, Elliott is still struggling to find his game. He’s 9-12-2 with a 2.88 goals-against-average and an .892 save percentage. His colleague Chad Johnson, who was brought in to be the No. 2 man, has fared better with a 16-12-1 record, 2.50 GAA and .913 save percentage but neither had taken the reigns.
Elliott gets another chance on Wednesday as he makes his second straight start as the Flames (25-24-3) face the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild (33-11-5) at 8 p.m. Head coach Glen Gulutzan recently instituted a win-and-stay-in policy for his goaltenders.
“That’s what this league is all about, really — you have to perform to be able to play,” Elliott told Postmedia News. “Anytime we get in there, you want to get that win. And when you’re not in there, you want the guys to do the best they can. You put more pressure on yourself than anybody else can put on you, so it’s no change in mindset for us. It’s just go out there and perform.”
Elliott cost the Flames a 2016 second-round pick and a 2018 conditional third-round pick in a deal done at the 2016 draft, so he’s been heavily scrutinized because a decent price was paid to get a goalie who has underperformed.
Elliot earned the Minnesota game because he was in goal for the final game before the all-star break and he won in overtime in Ottawa.
The two Flames goalies outwardly have accepted Gulutzan’s plan to stick with the winning goalie the next time out.
“There’s been highs and lows with the team and we need wins,” Johnson said. “We need wins so whether it’s me or Els or a 10-year-old kid who comes to play, if you win you’re in and that’s how it is.
“This is the NHL. It’s about winning.”
The Wild don’t have a similar problem with their goaltending. They will start Devin Dubnyk on Wednesday. Dubnyk is 18-2 in his last 20 starts and leads the NHL with a 1.88 GAA and .936 save percentage.
Dubnyk got the night off in Edmonton on Tuesday because he took part in the All-Star festivities in Los Angeles on Sunday. His backup Darcy Kuemper made 41 saves to stop the Oilers 5-2, giving Minnesota its fifth win in its past six games and moving them seven points up on the San Jose Sharks for the conference lead.
“We’ve done a good job of trying to break everything down by the week and be over .500 on the weeks and trying to win the weeks and I don’t think our mentality has changed with that,” said Wild center Zach Parise.
The Flames dropped a point out of the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Kings’ 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.
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