Brian Elliott and the St. Louis Blues’ goalie conundrum

It’s never a fun time when one year’s feel-good story becomes the next year’s cautionary nightmare.

Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues had the fairy tale last season: Establishing himself as an elite (by the numbers) NHL goaltender, making the All-Star Game, sharing the Jennings with Jaroslav Halek and getting a 2-year, $3.6-million contract extension after making just $600,000 that season.

One year later, and Elliott is 3-6-1 with a 3.65 GAA and an .851 save percentage, which places him below Scott Clemmensen (.857) for worst in the NHL.

The problem for the Blues, of course, is that the player just a few clicks above Elliott for the worst save percentage: Jaroslav Halak at .881.

As Jim Matheson points out, the Blues’ goaltending has been a black mark on the season, except for one saving grace:

With rookie Jake Allen bailing the St. Louis Blues out of their goalie woes, they’re the only team carrying three netminders, with Jaro Halak backing up and last year’s top dog Brian Elliott (nine shutouts) in the press box. They don’t want to put Elliot on waivers, figuring he’d get picked up, but maybe not off his $1.8-million salary for this year and next. Never a good thing fiscally when $5.5 million worth of goalies are watching a kid making $816,000.

No kidding.

Blues watchers like Andy Stickland have noted that the team’s struggles this season went beyond goaltending, with injuries playing a major role. Now that they’re healthy – well, healthier – they’ve won three in a row and are back in the No. 4 seed in the crowded Western Conference.

Three in a row, all won by Allen, including his first NHL shutout against Phoenix and then holding the Anaheim Ducks to one goal.

How long can this team carry three netminders?

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