Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 5/5/12

In St. Louis, what was once a strength is now a weakness. A first round injury knocked former playoff standout and current Blues starter Jaroslav Halak out for an undetermined amount of time, leaving unlikely All-Star netminder Brian Elliott to hold down the fort.

And hold down the fort he has not.


Following a breakout regular season in which Elliott won 23 of 38 appearances, posted a tidy 1.56 goals against average and even more impressive .940 save percentage, the journeyman has struggled to find his magic in the postseason. Through seven playoff appearances, Elliott has a pedestrian .905 save percentage while allowing an alarming nine goals through the last two games. Clearly, something is a miss.

"It starts with me between the pipes and works itself out. It’s not where we want to be, but we’re not going anywhere," Elliott explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We’re fighting and we want to take it back to St. Louis."

Elliott seems to understand that his performance is sub-par, and realizes it might not be completely his fault, but a strength is not only now a weakness, its a liability. And with Jonathan Quick still stopping nearly everything that moves, the margin for error is even smaller.

In fact, the Kings netminding has put an extra emphasis on the Blues' critical situation. Quick, much like he did during the regular season, has been nothing short of phenomenal, stopping all but five shots through 180 minutes. If the Blues are to prevent a sweep, Elliott, like Cory Schneider before him, needs to be literally perfect.
But if anyone has the potential to bounce back, and put on an elite display, it's Elliott. No stranger to shutouts, Elliott finished the regular season with nine of them, one behind Quick for the league lead. He also allowed only one goal in eight more contests. The potential is still there to steal a game and perhaps get his team back into this series.
The Blues are not fully out of this series yet-- they still have all the pieces to contend. However, what was once up during the regular season is now down. They've struggled defensively after finishing first in goals against. They also failed to bounce back after barely losing in consecutive games all season. And to add insult to injury, Chris Stewart, who scored only 15 goals in 79 games, is arguably their most lethal offensive weapon.
What was once a strength for the Blues has become a weakness; if that continues, it should be an early exit for the West's second seed.



Photo Credit: Getty Images

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