Veteran Elliott ready to step in should Hart injury linger

Brian Elliott

VOORHEES – The puck slid into the net, Brian Elliott rose to his feet, smashed his stick over the goal post, then, doing his best Ron Hextall impersonation, tossed the offending piece of wood over the bench.

And this was nothing more than a five-on-five drill in the middle of a Wednesday training camp session.

This episode on day 10 of camp showed just how competitive the 35-year-old can be.

With the timeline on regular starter Carter Hart’s status (back spasms) indefinite, the Flyers might have to lean on Elliott when action gets underway next Tuesday with a preseason game against Pittsburgh in Toronto.

Of course, the Flyers would like to have Hart healthy and ready to go.

But they can take some comfort in having a proven veteran such as Elliott to step in if needed.

Let’s put it this way: Elliott has competed in 45 career playoff games, Hart has yet to play in one.

Defenseman Matt Niskanen addressed the situation directly after the workout ended at the Skate Zone.

Just knowing Elliott carries a 2.53 goals-against average in postseason play has to be somewhat of a comfort.

“I think it’s really big,’’ Niskanen said. “I don’t think anyone questions that. A healthy, confident Carter Hart is our guy.

“But things happen in the playoffs, whether it be a tweak or an injury. . .if a goalie has to miss a game or half a series; to have a veteran guy in there who is confident as a pro and step into a role that doesn’t feel too big for him, that can save you a series.’’

Elliott posted a 16-7-4 record this past season and many of those starts were on the road where he was 12-5-2.

“He’s come in here with a good mindset,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said. “Because of the long layoff and the limited amount of ice time that a goaltender can get, you always wonder how they’re going to come in.

“But Brian has looked good. Everyday I feel that he’s working extremely hard, spending a lot of time with Kim (goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh). He’s going to be ready, there’s no doubt. He’s been a big part of our team and at some point we’re going to need him in these playoffs. And he will play well for us.’’

Elliott takes these types of situations in stride. He’s been a starting goalie for much of his NHL playing career but he’s also had partners along the way.

“I’ve felt better and better,’’ Elliott said. “Just kind of getting back that competitiveness and battle level. I think we’ve done a good job of trying to ramp things up.’’

If Hart is out a while, Elliott says his level of preparation won’t change all that much.

“I’ve just tried to put more focus on the details each day,’’ he said. “The first parts of these practices haven’t been geared to that. Now we have those fundamentals down, now it’s time to focus on those in-tight battles. I don’t think it matters who is in or out of the lineup.’’


>Baby on the way


Sean Couturier had Wednesday off because his wife was expecting the couple’s first child. Also getting the day off were Connor Bunnaman, goalie Kirill Ustimenko and Hart.


>Short shots


The Flyers-Boston game on Sunday, Aug. 3 p.m. will be televised on NBC. . .The Flyers have a scrimmage scheduled for Thursday, are off Friday, practice one more time on Saturday and then fly to Toronto on Sunday.

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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