Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Elliott sidelined week to week; Brodeur invited to try out

Blues' goalie injured Tuesday against Senators; 
future Hall of Famer will work out with team

ST. LOUIS -- There's typically not good news associated with the injury of a player, but for the St. Louis Blues there was a cautious collective breath of relief knowing goalie Brian Elliott will not need surgery.

Elliott, who departed the Blues game against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday with 6:02 remaining in the second period with a lower-body injury (believed to be a knee sprain), has been termed out week-to-week by the team.

And with an unknown time frame, the team announced Wednesday that they are bringing in veteran goalie Martin Brodeur on a tryout basis.
(Getty Images)
Martin Brodeur has been brought in by the Blues on a tryout basis. He will
join the team Friday at practice.

Brudeur, 42, will join the Blues on Friday for a morning skate prior to facing the Edmonton Oilers at Scottrade Center and continue to practice for at least a week before the team decides whether to offer him a contract. 

Elliott had stopped all 16 shots and left with the Blues leading 2-0, a game they eventually lost 3-2 in a shootout. Elliott was involved in a scramble for the puck in the Blues crease when Senators forward Erik Condra tumbled over Elliott, whose leg buckled underneath him. He skated off on his own power after trying to convince head athletic trainer Ray Barile that he could continue, and did not return.

The Blues will turn the reins over to Jake Allen, who is 6-2-1 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .920 save percentage, and they recalled Jordan Binnington from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League under emergency conditions.

Brudeur, who has spent the past 21 seasons with the New Jersey Devils and is a future Hall of Famer, was not offered a contract by the Devils this past summer and has been out of work since.

"I think we looked at our schedule and we're playing four games a week," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We have a young guy in the American Hockey League (Binnington) who's just getting his career started. We've got a young guy in the East Coast Hockey League (Niklas Lundstrom with the Alaska Aces) who's just getting his career started, and we've got a young guy in the NHL (Allen) who's getting his career started. In fairness to all three goalies, they need to have some support. Marty offers, depending on how he looks, he offers organizational support. I have a background with him, so we know each other."

Brodeur is the NHL's all-time leader for wins by a goalie, shutouts, losses and games played. His background with Hitchcock comes from being on the same team at three Winter Olympics with Canada and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. Brodeur, who has a 668-394-105 record with a 2.24 GAA and .912 save percentage, has been working out on his own and awaiting the right opportunity to join another team.

"It's an opportunity for him to practice and be around an NHL team and it's an opportunity for us to take a look at him," Hitchcock said of Brodeur. "In fairness to Jake, it gives him some stable support behind him if it works out with Marty.

"... (Brodeur's) a real pro. He's the most normal goalie I've ever met in my life. Normal as in ... you can't believe how he acts as if he's a forward or defenseman. That part I know. I know how good he is in the locker room, and I know how good he is and has been for everybody else."

As for Elliott, the Blues are looking at an insurance policy in case Elliott is sidelined for a lengthy period of time.

"He's week-to-week and we'll kind of address it every Sunday and see how he is," Hitchcock said of Elliott, who is 8-4-1 with an NHL-leading 1.82 GAA and a .931 save percentage that ranks third. "About as close as I can give you now. We've got 'Binny' in here and we'll just kind of look at it every seven days and see how it is. It could be literally week-to-week. 

"[Elliott's] had this type of injury before and it's recovered quickly and nicely. … But we don't want to be saying it's five or six days and then it's 14 or whatever. So we'll leave it at week-to-week and see where we go."

Elliott, who was re-signed this past summer to three-year, $7.5 million contract to be the No. 1 goalie moving forward and form a tandem with Allen, was frustrated at the thought of leaving the game Tuesday. He threw his stick in disgust as he departed the ice going through the tunnel to the locker room.

"Adrenaline's flowing, but we've got to make sure," Hitchcock said. "If it was a skater, this would be moment-to-moment. But he's a goalie and you need your knees, especially if you're a butterfly goalie. 

"We're not taking any risks here. We want him back at 100 (percent). Jake can cover the load for a little while here."

Allen, who was the AHL goalie of the year last season, assumes the role of No. 1 moving forward. He's been in this position before when he was thrust into action two seasons ago after an injury that sidelined Jaroslav Halak.

"It's another game," Allen said. "It's unfortunate what happened to Ells. He's played so great this year. It's just a tough break, a weird play. It doesn't matter which one of us is really in the net. We're going to give the guys a chance every night. Looking forward to it to play a few more games, but hopefully Ells is back quick.

"I don't feel any different than if Ells was here. To me personally, it's just another game; same group of guys in front of me. I'm looking forward to it. The only bone for me is I get to play a couple more games. That's the positive, and the negative obviously is unfortunate that Ells is out, and he's a big part of our team. Hopefully he gets back soon."

Elliott's teammates feel bad for a guy they consider one of the hardest workers the Blues have.

"A guy who's worked so hard to get to this position and then something like this happens," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "Fortunately it wasn't something too major, but it stinks and that's another test for him to kind of stay with it, and we know he's going to take care of himself and work to get back as soon as he can. For a goalie, just take your time and be confident in the rehab and all that and I think he'll be back. Fortunately he won't be missing the end of the season. He'll be back for the meat of it and we're going to need him then."

The Blues have had arguably the best 1-2 tandem in the League thus far with Elliott and Allen, who have been ranked at or near the top in all goalie statistical categories. Confidence will not be shaken now that Allen assumes the temporary role of No. 1.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Brian Elliott was injured Tuesday against Ottawa and is listed
as week to week with a lower-body injury.

"We do have a lot of faith in 'Snake,'" forward T.J. Oshie said of Allen. "He's been great as well all year. He's got a lot of responsibility on his hand to go night in, night out until Ells gets back. But we're definitely confident in front of him."

Hitchcock has relied on a 1-2 combo for his tenure as coach of the Blues. It's a little different challenge until Elliott returns, with Binnington's lack of NHL experience. Binnington is 6-2-1 with a 1.89 GAA and .925 save percentage with the Wolves, but only had limited minutes playing preseason games in the NHL.

"I look at it as opportunity," Hitchcock said. "Jake's earned the right. I think the challenge is that we fly a little bit solo now. This is something that other organizations, other teams have gone through. Some have gone through this year, a lot went through last year. We've just got to get focused on one guy being the goalie and see how we do from there. There's that comfort zone with the tandem. The tandem's been excellent, arguably the best tandem in the League. Now Jake's got to grab the ball and run a little bit solo with it."

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