Ottawa’s Brian Elliott had his second shutout in a row last night, with a considerable assist given to Anton Volchenkov’s shot-blocking.
It’s still a little early, but this is the time of year when you look for a goalie to get hot. Because a lot of times a hot goalie becomes a huge factor in the playoffs.
Is Elliott that kind of hot goalie?
He last surrendered a goal toward the middle of the third period against Atlanta March 18. Since that goal, he’s gone scoreless in 14 minutes of relief for Pascal Leclaire and tended the two consecutive shutouts.
Assuming the Eastern standings don’t shift too much, hardly a given, the Senators would draw the Flyers in the first round, which now seems like almost a bye for Ottawa.
Of course, the Flyers could still very easily fall out of the playoff race. I think they might be able to solidify their position, though. They’ve lost Jeff Carter but have slid Claude Giroux into Carter’s spot on the second line.
Giroux hasn’t performed well this season but hasn’t played with great wings. He should do better finishing the season between Dany Briere and Scott Hartnell, although obviously the promotion didn’t pay immediate dividends last night.
Meanwhile, Ottawa, a bit of a joke at the start of the season, what with its star player demanding a trade, suddenly seems very much like a team to watch in the post-season.
Also worth noting: The Thrashers had the chance to move into the playoffs last night and blew it with an awful game against the Bruins. Thrashers Coach John Anderson blamed nerves, which was the first time I can remember an NHL coach properly attributing nerves to a loss. It was nice to see the horrible loss filed where it belonged.