and Brian Elliott
have more in common than the logos on their jerseys.
The St. Louis Blues goaltenders are both fighting for the starter's role while trying to avoid being cast aside as in years past.
Halak, suffering through a nightmarish beginning to the season, had a firm grip on the No. 1 slot heading into the campaign but has let it slip away.
Haunted by inconsistent play with a 1-5-0 record and a 3.58 goals-against average (53rd in the NHL heading into Thursday's action), the 26-year-old has given up a dismal 20 goals so far.
What's even more alarming is his woeful save percentage - arguably the most tell-tale sign of a goaltender's performance - which stands at .843, second-worst in the league at 62nd overall.
It's a case of a high profile player with a starting goalie's salary (Annual cap hit: $3.75 million US) brought in to solidify the position but not living up to expectations.
Sure, you can chalk it up to a slow start, but something has to give, especially with former Ottawa Senators netminder Elliott nipping at his heels.
And for now, Blues head coach Davis Payne seems to have given Elliott a vote of confidence.
The Newmarket, Ont., native has thrived with the increase in playing time, going 4-1-0 with an eye-popping 1.67 GAA (3rd) and .942 save percentage (5th).
With a modest cap hit of $600,000, Elliott is also a much cheaper alternative, although his one-year deal expires after the season.
Having some competition in the crease isn't a foreign experience for either Blues backstop. In one way or another, both have been pushed aside before. Halak's Hab heroics not enough
Montreal Canadiens fans remember Halak's playoff heroics in 2010 (18 GP, a .923 save percentage and a 2.55 GAA) when he led the Habs in an improbable post-season run to the Eastern Conference final, only to fall to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games.
Halak started more than half of the team's games that season, going 26-13-5 with a .924 save percentage and 2.40 GAA. Not to mention his five shutouts.
The problem for the Slovakia native was that the Montreal brass proceeded to anoint former first round pick Carey Price as their undisputed No. 1 goalie. They shipped Halak to the Blues
in exchange for forwards Lars Eller and Ian Schultz the following summer.
Elliott's status as the go-to-guy in goal has been plagued by uncertainty throughout his career. His only bona fide season as a starter was in 2009-10 for the Senators when he played in 55 games, notched 29 wins and posted a .909 save percentage.
Pretty respectable numbers, right? Well, they weren't good enough to earn him long-term status as the team's primary option in net.
Ottawa alternated Elliott and the injury-plagued Pascal Leclaire, with the latter seeing action in 34 games during the 2009-10 campaign.
The Sens eventually bid farewell to Elliott and sent him to the Colorado Avalanche
last season in a deal that brought in their current No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson.
The former NCAA star was dreadful with the Avalanche, going 2-8-1 in 12 appearances with a 3.83 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.
The real test for Elliott is whether he can do in St. Louis what he didn't do in Ottawa and Denver - cement a starting spot on the roster. Succeeding would come at the expense of Halak.
Payne has shown a tendency to go with the hot hand in net, and if that's the case, Halak had better get his glove in the oven soon or he's in for a long season.
Back to accessibility links