VOORHEES – With rookie goaltender Carter Hart stealing the spotlight through most of the Flyers’ recent stellar run, the injured Brian Elliott became almost an invisible man.
As coach Scott Gordon said last week about another sidelined player: “Out of sight, out of mind.’’
One would have expected Elliott to show some rust after missing 40 games with a lower-body injury and that appeared to be the case in two rehab starts with the Phantoms: 3.47 goals-against average, .877 save percentage.
But when Hart went down with an ankle injury of his own on Feb. 22, Elliott jumped right in the next night, a 4-3 overtime win against Pittsburgh in the Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Since then, Elliott has gone 2-0-1 and looked especially sharp in Sunday’s 4-1 win at the New York Islanders.’
“I attribute it to taking a while,’’ he said after Tuesday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “I didn’t want to come back before I was ready. And I felt ready.
“I just tried to get a couple games in the AHL to get some bumps in and feel some pucks, scrambles, come up here and try it out.’’
Elliott will get a real test on Wednesday night vs. the Washington Capitals.
“It’s a lot of firepower over there,’’ Elliott said. “They’re a confident group coming off last year’s Cup. You have to weather their storm and then come back with a storm of your own.
“I think if you just stick with your game and not try to change too much about how we play to how play we against them – it’s more about controlling your own game.’’
Elliott potentially could be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
He was asked how important these last two months are to his future, be it with the Flyers or another NHL team.
Predictably, he put team goals ahead of his own.
“It (next year) isn’t even on the radar,’’ Elliott said. “We’re so close now to making that playoff spot that every game counts.
“Personal goals are set aside at this time of year. If it’s good for yourself, it’s good for the team. Whatever you need to do, to a man, that’s what you need to do to get ourselves a playoff spot.’’
Coach Scott Gordon isn’t surprised Elliott has been able to hit the ice “skating.’’ A former goalie himself, Gordon knows it’s all about the work and Elliott covers that aspect of the game.
And defenseman Ivan Provorov, who was on the ice for all four Flyer goals in the Islander game, says his team seems to play with more confidence when a goaltender starts the game looking sharp, as Elliott did on Sunday.
“The ‘Stadium’ game was huge,’’ Provorov pointed out. “He’s been playing well. When the goalie is going and the players are going, it’s much easier to play the game (for both). You don’t have to look back. That’s how we’ve been playing since the bye week (Jan. 20-27).’’