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New era begins for Brian Elliott, Flames

Goaltender's winning pedigree, attitude embraced by Calgary

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Goaltender Brian Elliott knows the struggles the Calgary Flames had in net last season.

But Elliott, acquired by the Flames in a trade with the St. Louis Blues for a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 draft on June 24, would prefer to look forward at the impact he can have in Calgary, not back at a situation he wasn't part of.

"I don't focus on anything from last year," said Elliott, 31. "This is new. This is my first year here. That's what it's all about. I'm not focused on anything about the past. Talking to some guys, they learned from it and they put it in their back pocket and tried to move on and learn from it.

"For me, it's just coming in and trying to use my experiences and my knowledge and work ethic to help this team. I'm not thinking about anything from last year."

Video: STL@CHI: Elliott dives to make an incredible save

Calgary opens the regular season against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday.

The game will be Elliott's first to help erase the memory of a disappointing season in which the Flames failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs largely because of goaltending issues. The Flames allowed a League-high 257 goals last season. Ramo had a .909 save percentage that was the best on the Flames but was 43rd among the 58 goals to play at least 20 games.

Four played at least four games: Ramo (37), Jonas Hiller (23), Joni Ortio (19) and Niklas Backstrom (four), and none were re-signed.

Elliott, who split time in St. Louis with Jake Allen last season, was 23-8-6 in 42 games, led the NHL with a .930 save percentage and was third with a 2.07 goals-against average. He also started 18 games during the Blues' run to the Western Conference Final, with a 2.44 GAA and .921 save percentage.

The expectation isn't for Elliott to replicate those numbers with the Flames, though.

"We were 30th in goaltending … we don't need Brian Elliott to be Superman here," Calgary assistant general manager Craig Conroy said. "We just need Brian Elliott to be a good goalie. We don't need him to steal games. We just need him to be solid and make big saves when we need it … give us a chance every game. If he does that, that's what we're looking for.

"I don't want to put pressure saying he has to be the best goalie in the league, or they have to do this or that, but we do need them to give us a chance to win every night."

Elliott has the track record to do just that.

Among goalies with at least 50 NHL games played since 2011-12, he is first in goals-against GAA (2.01) and second in save percentage (.925; Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils leads at .926) and shutouts (25; Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings is first with 28).

Flames right wing Troy Brouwer saw Elliott's work up close last season as his teammate with the Blues.

Video: WPG@STL: Elliot gobbles up Peluso's wrister

"He's a solid competitor," said Brouwer, who signed a four-year contact with the Flames on July 1. "We leaned on him so much last year in St. Louis. I have a lot of familiarity with him, so I know what to expect out of him. Fans and the players will learn here in a hurry what he's all about, which is competitiveness, and just a great human in the room, around the room.

"Last year they gave him the ropes and he performed amazingly. He kept us in games in the playoffs, won us games in the playoffs and down the stretch. To have confidence in your goaltenders goes a long way, just to being able to just go out there and play.

"He's a great guy. He's a guy that battles so hard on the ice for his teammates and the fans and for his team. He's going to be a very welcomed attribute to this team."

Elliott has gotten off to a strong start with the Flames. In three preseason games he's 2-0-0 with a 0.83 GAA and .962 save percentage.

But Elliott feels his impact can stretch beyond numbers.

"It's more about doing it together as a team and holding each other accountable," he said. "If I give it my all, I can hold someone else accountable for maybe not giving it their all. It's all about coming together. We want to make this a tight group that can hold each other accountable and still give each other a hug at the end of the day."

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