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Defending Elliott: Opinion Piece

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Brian Elliott is getting lit up by Flames fans.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

So it’s no secret that the Calgary Flames are off to a pretty horrible start to this season. The finger pointing is going in a number of directions and the frustration is showing up all over social media.

I recently posted the Friday Fan Poll with the question, “What is the biggest surprise so far this season?” While it’s only been up for less than a day, so far the majority of the responses point towards goaltender Brian Elliott being off to a less than spectacular 0-3 start. That got me thinking, is he really doing that bad? So I checked his numbers so far. Now when I say I checked his “numbers”, I don’t mean I checked any advanced stats or super powers that a lot of super-hockey-nerds check up on (No offense to super-hockey-nerds, I totally respect their level of intuition and commitment, I just don’t understand most of it).

I looked at only one number...Save Percentage. Plain and simple, the percentage of shots Elliott is stopping. I didn’t look at Goals Against Average because he has only played three games. Not really a fair time to assess since one really good or one really bad game (6 goals from the Oilers in first game) can blow this stat way out of proportion early on in a season.

In the first game against the Edmonton Oilers, Elliott stopped 21 of 27 shots he faced for a Save Percentage of 0.778% which is pretty bad.

In his second game against the Oilers, he stopped 24 of 28 shots for a Save Percentage of 0.857%, which doesn’t even put him in the top 30 among goalies playing 2 or more games.

Finally, in the last game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Elliot stopped 28 of 32 shots for a 0.875% Save Percentage. This would at least get him in the top 30.

The main this I see is that he is improving with each game. In the first game he struggled a lot. He was fighting it a little, let in a couple bad goals and let’s face it, our defence was non-existent. In the game against the Hurricanes, he looked fairly solid and made a couple really great saves to keep it close.

We have to also take into consideration that he came from a different team. That means a different coach, a different defense in front of him, a whole different system. It’s going to take a while for him to settle in, and he will, and when he does, it will be spectacular.