The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.
In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.
Today we will be looking at veteran goaltender Brian Elliott.
For years, the Flyers have struggled to find any form of consistency in net, their tipping point falling in the 2018-19 season after cycling through eight different goaltenders. That is now a distant memory after a solid year from the duo of Carter Hart and Elliott.
When the Flyers brought the veteran goaltender back on a one-year deal, this became a season in which he needed to prove himself when it was time to step up — and he did just that. When Hart struggled in his first year, Elliott was able to make up for it, creating a balance that any team would be lucky to have.
During his time as a Flyer, Elliott had never been utilized in a way that would benefit himself and the team for long stretches of time. He was often worked into the ground and injuries would follow suit. This most recent season showcased that he still has the potential to be a great goaltender, given all of the pressure didn’t just fall on him.
Elliott posted a 16-7-4 record, with 12 of those wins coming on the road — and they weren’t easy matchups by any means. He dominated at the Capitals’ barn on two separate occasions, beat the defending Stanley Cup champions St. Louis Blues, but more importantly — he won the trap games. Games that are often labeled as easy wins, but then fall short. All of the small things were done right — and it made for a thrilling time.
Moose earned a solid B+ this season. Not bad at all.
After dealing with injury last season, Elliott entered into his 13th NHL season in 2019-20 and third with the Flyers at the age of 34. With that came concerns about his ability to still have a solid game. It’s not that anyone thought he’d struggle, but he without a doubt exceeded any expectations this season.
One of the biggest strengths for the Flyers during the regular season was their strong goaltending tandem of Elliott and Hart. The goalie tandem made for one of the strongest in home/away splits.
Elliott on the road: 12-5-2
Hart at home: 20-3-2
Elliott came up clutch when Hart was hurt in mid-January. Elliott went 5-1-1 with a .916 save percentage during Hart’s absence. He has been consistently impressive all season long.
Without a doubt, you’re happy to see the Flyers not play a record-setting eight goaltenders in a single season again this year (which happened in 2018-19). Thankfully with the impressive performances from Hart and in this case, Elliott, you didn’t have to see that happen.
Elliott earns an A.
Elliott has been a such an underrated, sneaky-important part of the Flyers' success this year, especially during the second half of this season. While it’s clear Hart is the future for the Flyers, part of the coaching staff putting No. 79 in a position to succeed is allowing him breathing room as he runs into growing pains. Elliott has not only allowed that to happen, he’s also played some great hockey in the process.
With Hart struggling on the road, Elliott has stepped up and recorded some big performances away from the Wells Fargo Center. Since the start of 2020, he’s been between the pipes for wins at St. Louis and twice in D.C. He’s also recorded two shutouts since the start of the calendar year. He’s been exactly the goalie the Flyers have needed him to be this year. He’s played really well when the team’s needed him, too, and he’s been a great goalie partner for a young star like Hart.
For Elliott, I’m going to give him a B+. Elliott is about as good a backup goaltender as you will find in the NHL. A 16-7-4 record with a goals-against average of under three is more than you can expect from most backup goaltenders, but that is not the whole story with Elliott. The man they call “Moose” knows he is not the man for the Flyers. This is Hart’s team and Elliott has embraced the veteran role of mentor, even though, in reality, Elliott could likely start for a few teams in the NHL.
The one knock on Elliott I would say is that he sometimes is susceptible to the soft goal, which definitely hurts in terms of relying on Elliott in bigger games. Elliott has also recently been injury prone, outside of this season, which is a dangerous proposition when discussing a backup goaltender. Overall though, his play on the ice as Hart’s backup and his veteran leadership make Elliott very valuable to this Flyers team.
B+ for Moose.
Elliott has done everything the Flyers hoped for when they re-signed him to a one-year contract last June.
He stayed healthy and spelled Hart during two important junctures.
In October, the 21-year-old Hart hit a rough patch, going 0-3-0 with a 5.92 goals-against average (12 goals on 43 shots). Hart was in the opening month of his first full NHL season and the Flyers were looking to finally start well in October under a new head coach.
Elliott came in and went 3-0-0 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .933 save percentage over a four-game stretch, surrendering only seven goals on 104 shots.
When Hart missed nine games because of a right lower abdominal strain from January into February, Elliott went 5-1-1 with a 2.06 goals-against average and two shutouts.
The 35-year-old veteran deserves an A- for his timely work this regular season.
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