Back in training camp, things seemed so simple. The Flames had two shiny new goaltenders coming into the organization after last season’s debacle and things were looking up.
Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson were to be two solid goaltenders that could steal games for the team, and help get the Flames over the hump. Elliott was the undoubted #1 goalie, with Johnson to serve as his backup.
Then the season began.
The Flames opened with two poor performances from Elliott where he allowed nine goals in the two games on a total of 55 shots. The following night, Calgary went into Vancouver and Johnson made 30 saves on route to an eventual 2-1 shootout loss. He had only been a mere 3:51 away from a shutout in his Flames debut.
The Flames came back home and beat Buffalo with Johnson at the helm, and from there starts began to ping pong between the two for a while.
After a string of rough nights for Elliott, Johnson got the start on November 15 in Minnesota, and promptly shut out the Wild 1-0 with an amazing performance.
From that night he stole the net for about a month, until December 14th when he was pulled in the 2nd intermission after allowing four goals on 21 shots against Tampa Bay.
Johnson does deserve a lot of credit for essentially saving the Flames season in that month-long span as the Flames went 11-3-1. Even more amazing was that Johnson himself was 11-2-0 with a 0.946 sv%, a 1.61 GAA, and three shutouts.
However, from that game against the Lightning, the crease slowly began to shift back towards Elliott as Johnson came down from his amazing numbers. Elliott proceeded to show some of the skill that we had hoped we’d be getting full time when he was acquired from the Blues by putting together some wins.
A Tale of Two Halves
October 12 to December 13
December 14th to February 12
These two tables really show how differently or almost oppositely these two goaltenders have fared during the two month periods this season. It’s also important to remember these windows are still rather small sample sizes.
While Elliott’s numbers still aren’t great in the second half, they’re quite a positive improvement. I still think he’s only scratching the surface of what he can be capable of, but it’s encouraging to see the improvement. But will Elliott actually keep getting better this year, it’s tough to know. He’s had great games, but seems prone to letting in some stinkers too.
On the other hand, I don’t think Johnson is nearly as good as his numbers were in the first window, but he also isn’t nearly as bad as his numbers were in the second window. I feel like he’s somewhere in between the two, which is just fine but not great for a starting goaltender.
Up until the team fell apart in the string of four games with a 4-0 deficit, it had looked like Elliott’s team again. Now, we’re at a point where Glen Gulutzan has said to the goalies, you win and you’re in. As much as I usually don’t like that strategy, it seems to have been working for the Flames right now as they’ve won four of five since Gulutzan blew his gasket in Montreal.
My task to you is to answer a difficult question in the shoes of Gulutzan or Brad Treliving:
You’re told by the NHL that you must designate a starting goalie for the remaining 26 games of the season (1 goalie plays 20, 1 goalie plays 6). Who would you choose?
Vote in our poll and then tell us why in the comments.