Philadelphia Flyers: Brian Elliott saves the day heading into break

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

When Carter Hart was lost to injury, the Philadelphia Flyers badly needed Brian Elliott to step up so that they didn’t limp into the all-star break. And he delivered.

The unofficial midpoint of the Philadelphia Flyers season arrived a few days ago as they played their final game before the jumbo-sized NHL all-star break/bye week that won’t see them back in action until January 31.

We can look back now and be pleased with the progress that the Flyers have made in recent weeks ever since returning home following their horrendous 1-4-1 road trip over the holidays. But it’s easy to forget how this season seemed to hanging by a thread just over a week ago when it was announced that Carter Hart had suffered an injury that would keep him out 2-3 weeks.

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Enter Brian Elliott, from whom a great deal was going to be asked.

I’d say he earned a passing grade.

Since Hart’s injury, Elliott has posted a 3-0 mark in stopping 83 of 87 shots during that time, with two of the wins coming against top competition in St. Louis and Pittsburgh. The shutout over the Penguins was an especially nice team performance, as Elliott only had to turn aside 19 shots to post his first goose egg in over a calendar year.

It was also the “easiest” shutout in terms of shots allowed that the Flyers had registered as a team since Elliott needed to make just 17 saves in a whitewashing of the Rangers two seasons ago.

The beating of the Penguins came only a few nights after Elliott stood tall in the third period of a 4-1 win over the L.A. Kings that looked dominant in the box score but could have gotten hairy in the final stanza if he wasn’t on point.

Throw in the unlikely overtime win that the Flyers posted in St. Louis against the defending Cup Champions, and it was an impressive stretch that could have put a real damper on the season if things had gone differently.

Even with the Flyers’ letdown loss to Montreal (with Alex Lyon in net), the last week has been an impressive continuum of the stretch that saw the Flyers defeat other elite clubs in Washington and Boston.

Over the past few games, Elliott gave the Flyers exactly the kind of goaltending they need, and the team reciprocating by playing good hockey in front of him and not hanging him out to dry. Elliott has shown himself to be capable, but it wouldn’t be a good idea to expect him to handle 40 shots a night. The team can save those kinds of games for Hart when he comes back.

In the meantime, Elliott has steadied the ship and gotten the Flyers into their long break in good shape. Hart’s timetable still isn’t clear, and so Elliott could still be “the man” for the first few games after the break, including a rematch against the Penguins right out of the chute.

Next. Flyers: Win over Kings a rare but comforting sight. dark

But for now, he’s earned the next few days off after his solid play has kept this Flyers season on the rails for the time being. Maybe this can also serve as a springboard for Elliott to keep up this level of play for the 12 to 15 more starts that the team is likely to need from him the rest of the way, even once Carter Hart resumes primary ownership of the Flyers’ crease.