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Elliott hitting his stride

The goaltender has won his last four starts

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- Nothing's really changed for Brian Elliott.

Same approach.

Same routine.

Same mentality.

Same effort.

But the results?

They've taken a more positive go of late.

"You try to just play the same way every time," started Elliott, who is in the midst of a season-long, season-turning four-game winning streak.

"If you start trying to switch things up or play situations differently then you're searching for answers in the wrong places.

"You've been through tough times in the past and with my experience, the harder the work the luckier you get. You try to just put your head down and work and not really think about the result.

"It's just how you're playing and if you feel good about that hopefully the results will follow."

Video: CGY@COL: Elliott snags Barrie's rebound attempt

Results, on all fronts, had been disappointing for Elliott through the first 14 games of his tenure with the Calgary Flames.

The 31-year-old, acquired on draft day in a trade with the St. Louis Blues in an attempt to bolster a problematic crease, slumped in his start with the Flames.

A 3-9-1 record.

A 3.31 GAA.

An .886 save percentage.

Not the numbers that had made Elliott one of the top NHL goaltenders since the start of the 2011-12 season.

And not a chance to play out of it with fellow goalie Chad Johnson carrying the bulk of the load for Calgary during an incredible month-long run that included a season-saving 11-2-0 record starting with a shutout of the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 15.

Elliott's ran with the ball of late, posting a perfect 4-0-0 record -- including his first win since Oct. 28 to end a personal seven-game skid -- with a 2.00 GAA and .918 save percentage while starting four of the past six games for the Flames.

"He's always been a good goalie," Johnson said of Elliott, who entering the season ranked first in GAA (2.01) and second in save percentage (.925) and shutouts (25) among goalies with at least 50 NHL games played since 2011-12.

"That hasn't changed. His ability hasn't changed.

"Sometimes the opportunities … the goals just go in.

"You can tell he's more comfortable and more confident, too.

"The games he's gotten he's played well in there. It's nice to get into those games and feel good and gets the wins. I want to be in the net and get in those games as well, but in this league you need both guys to be going and playing well.

"He's played well in those games and that's good for us."

Elliott's playing much more like his career numbers with the Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators would suggest.

He's found his form, no doubt.

Thanks in large part to his lauded efforts in practice.

Video: VAN@CGY: Elliott turns away Eriksson, H. Sedin

"It just reaffirms what you try to preach every day," Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. "You work your way out of things. There's a guy who's been meticulous about doing it.

"Now you see the results.

"It's good to see he's getting rewarded for the effort he puts in day-in, day-out."

"The cream doesn't rise to the crop," Elliott added.

"You rise to the level of your training.

"You try to bring it every day and hopefully the results will follow."

They have.

Four in a row will attest to that.

"You prepare your whole life for that next game," Elliott said. "The most prepared you'll ever be is for the next game you're going to play. You try to take that knowledge and experience and confidence into it and the way you play and practice, that usually shows."

It's shown.  

On the ice.

In his demeanor. 

But nothing's changed.

Except in the win column.

"He hasn't changed all year," forward Matt Stajan said.

"Right from the start he's battled in every shot in practice. If you score on him you get a reaction. He's not too happy.

"I think that's what you want as a player. You want goalies to always keep the puck out of the net. It's the old saying: you practice like you play.

"He's a prime example of that.

"It's good to have."

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