Elliott could get another start Wednesday; Payne puts to rest Oshie benching
By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When the Blues kept Brian Elliott over Ben Bishop for the backup job behind Jaroslav Halak, it wasn't with the intent of making Elliott the focal point of the team's successes in goal.
Elliott, 26, was just supposed to provide a backdrop, be a buffer back there and to spell Halak for a start here or there.
But just a little over two weeks into the season, it can be argued that Elliott is the team's go-to guy right now and Halak is the backup. The numbers don't lie.
Brian Elliott is 3-0 in three starts for the Blues this season.
Elliott is now 3-0-0 with a 2.06 goals-against average and .935 save percentage after back-to-back wins over Carolina (3-2 in overtime) and Philadelphia (4-2) on back-to-back nights. Halak, on the other hand, has struggled out of the gates with a 1-4-0 mark with a 3.47 GAA and .835 save percentage.
Maybe Elliott is riding a hot wave right now, but as long as the streak continues, why not enjoy it?
"You come to work every day and not too much changes," said Elliott, who was 15-27-9 last season with Ottawa and Colorado. "You want to keep the same mindset.
"You don't really attribute anything more other than the hard work. Sometimes you're playing just as well and the bounces go the other way. You've just got to take the positives and not get too high, not get too low. Just keep playing."
Elliott doesn't know if he starts to open a three-game Western Canada trip Wednesday in Vancouver, but it is expected that he get the nod.
"We haven't announced it yet, but it was another good solid performance (in Philadelphia)," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "Timely saves are something that saves your hockey team. The last couple of games, games have been tight or we've gotten out to a lead and we've had to face some pressure.
"In the third period, we knew we were going to face some pressure from Philly. We got ourselves a little backed off and a little deeper than we would like, but some of the interior plays that we allowed were about the only breakdowns we really don't like and he was huge on those. He made two big saves, especially the one on (Claude) Giroux right between the hash marks. I don't think we want to leave that guy in that spot without denying that pass too many times."
It's been a week since Halak played a game. He was pulled early in the third period of a 5-0 loss at Los Angeles last week and won't sit too long, but no matter what happens from here on out, Elliott is ready, winning and able.
"For a goaltender, it's just trying to be as solid as you can back there for the guys," Elliott said. "Let them do their thing and as long as you're stopping most of them, you're going to be alright."
* Injury update -- When it comes to Andy McDonald (concussion) and B.J. Crombeen (fractured shoulder), there is no new news.
Both are on injured reserve and neither will go with the team to Canada.
McDonald suffered the fifth concussion of his career Oct. 13 in Dallas and has missed the last five games. Payne said there's nothing new to report and McDonald remains sidelined indefinitely.
As for Crombeen, who's been out since Oct. 1, he's also in limbo with that fracture in his left shoulder.
He was at St. Louis Mills Monday wearing a sling.
"It's kind of a slow point right now where you're just kind of waiting for the bone to heal," said Crombeen, who did not require surgery. "But the last little while, I've been able to get out and do some of the rehab and do some light activity. It's nice to not be sitting around as much. It's a boring part in the process right now.
"They said it was pretty positive with that (no surgery). The bone didn't shift. Barring another fall or something like that, it shouldn't be necessary, so that was good news and positive from that front."
There is still no timetable on Crombeen's return.
"I think it depends on how it heals," Crombeen said. "Once it heals, how it reacts to contact and obviously you're going to have to spend some time getting back in shape and conditioning and all that. They haven't really given me a set timeline. ... It's pretty vague right now. It's probably going to be pretty vague until I actually get back."
David Perron, who's on his way back from a long bout with a concussion, participated in a full practice Monday and will accompany the team on this upcoming road trip.
* Oshie benching -- A lot was made of T.J. Oshie's benching in the second period of Saturday's win in Philadelphia.
Seems Payne made an example of the Blues' winger for what he would consider a careless play near the end of the first period when Oshie failed to get a puck in deep but chose to be too individualistic. It could have cost the Blues a goal.
Oshie, who returned for the third period, hasn't commented on it and has seemed to move on. Payne wanted to put the issue to rest himself.
"Again, we're not going to air this thing outside of our room," Payne said. "I make decisions based on the way guys are playing and the way things are happening on the ice with everybody. Those are decisions that are made and the reasons why will stay inside.
"(It''s) the same thing we've talked about with Osh. He's a good player when he plays a solid two-way game. He's a great player when he does that."
* Team game improves -- When the Blues came off their 1-3 West Coast trip, much was said about the Blues' team game.
How quickly those things change after back-to-back wins.
It got going early in the second period of a 3-2 overtime win over Carolina and carried right into Philadelphia, where the Blues led 2-0 after one period.
"Better. Especially once we got into Philadelphia," Payne said. "I thought that first period we managed the game very well. We took what was given. We were able to gain some opportunity, some odd-man rush plays that we have the ability to create and finish off. I thought we did a real good job there. ... It's all about making your opponent go the whole distance. For the most part, we did that."
* Welcome back Colaiacovo -- Since returning from a concussion that forced him to miss five games, Carlo Colaiacovo has arguably been the Blues' steadiest defenseman in the victories Friday and Saturday.
Colaiacovo played 17 minutes 13 seconds against Carolina and although he didn't register a point, he played a steady game. On Saturday against the Flyers, Colaiacovo scored a goal and assisted on another.
"He's made some good plays in transition," Payne said of his left-handed defenseman. "One thing that I think he contributed, especially last game in Philly, I thought our (defensemen) did a heck of a job of accepting some of the contact they have on the forecheck. It got our forecheck started. (Colaiacovo's) a guy that sees those plays, makes those plays. That starting of your play going up ice is one of the things he's very good at."