Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
From Feb. 12 to April 3 last season, St. Louis Blues goaltender Brian Elliott made 10 starts and had a 5-4-1 record, a 1.10 goal against average, a .952 save percentage and four shutouts.
In that same timeframe this season, he had one. No, not one shutout; one start.
Elliott was so bad in a four-start stretch from Feb. 5-11 -- 0-3-1, 5.05 GAA -- that he was removed from competition until March 3, and after allowing four goals in that March 3 start, he was benched again and eventually sent to the minors for a conditioning stint.
But Elliott is back now and on a three-game winning streak. He shut out the Red Wings on the road Sunday afternoon.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Elliott relies more on preparation than reflexes or athleticism when he's in the crease, so not playing during the lockout had a major impact on him.
"This is what happens when you're a detailed, instruction-type of goalie with a strong work ethic and you just go play shinny," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Look at all the guys who just went and played shinny, and look at how many of them are struggling. There's so many of them that have had tough gos here because they just played shinny. You can't do that and play in this league. It's too good."
The Blues' crease is still a great place to be for netminders. St. Louis has allowed 24.6 SOG per game this season, third-least in the NHL. And they have been shorthanded 124 times, tied for 11th-least in the NHL.
The Blues also own a penalty-kill percentage of .839, ninth in the NHL.
It's a similar situation to last season, when Elliott went 23-10-4 with nine shutouts, a 1.56 GAA and a .940 SV%. The latter two stats set modern-day records, so we know he can make a major fantasy impact in this system.
Starter Jaroslav Halak is out indefinitely with a groin injury, so Elliott has the starting job all to himself, with promising rookie Jake Allen backing up.
With 11 games remaining, including a tilt at Nashville Tuesday night, Elliott should be able to at least make up some of the damage he caused to fantasy owners' GAA and SV% back in February.