Senators goaltender Brian Elliott has been named the NHL's first star of the week after posting a 4-0-0 record and allowing only five goals (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Brian Elliott has settled into quite the goaltending groove.
And it isn't just his teammates who are taking notice of the Ottawa Senators stopper's stellar play of late.
The National Hockey League has named Elliott its first star of the week for the period ending Sunday. It was just reward for a goaltender who posted a perfect 4-0-0 record and allowed only five goals (on 115 shots) along the way.
In his typically understated way, Elliott accepted the recognition in stride. He knows full well the job is far from done.
"It’s an honour," said the 24-year-old Elliott, a ninth-round pick (291st overall) by the Senators in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. "There’s some good players in the league. But you play one good week, you want to play a few more of those."
The play of Elliott – and Binghamton callup Mike Brodeur before him – has been front and centre as the Senators have reeled off six-game winning streak, their longest since December 2007. Just as much as Elliott and injured starter Pascal Leclaire were under fire for the five-game losing streak that preceded it.
No wonder, then, that his teammates can't help feeling a healthy dose of goodwill toward the easygoing Elliott, who endured his share of barbs from the critics during some rough patches earlier this season.
"It’s a big character builder, going through those tough times and seeing how you come out of it," said Senators defenceman Matt Carkner. "(Elliott) has played real strong and he’s won the last four for us. He’s been playing outstanding.
"Just to keep your focus through all that, when everyone was carving him and take a notch out of him … he just fought through it and he’s playing well now."
Added forward Nick Foligno: "We know we have good goalies and when they do a great job for us, it just adds that extra level of confidence. We know if we make a mistake, they’re going to be there to back us up."
While Senators head coach Cory Clouston agreed "you can’t win in this league without goaltending," he quickly added "we’ve played well in front of him (during the winning streak). It’s been a real good team effort lately."
"It’s a big character builder, going through those tough times and seeing how you come out of it. (Elliott) has played real strong and he’s won the last four for us. He’s been playing outstanding. Just to keep your focus through all that, when everyone was carving him and take a notch out of him ... he just fought through it and he’s playing well now."- Matt Carkner
Nobody knows that more than Elliott himself.
"When the team is playing so well, it reflects well on the goalie," he said. "We’ve just got to keep it rolling here and not get too high on ourselves. We did a good job not getting too low (during the losing skid). Now we’ve just got to do a good job not getting too high."
One quick look at the Eastern Conference standings should prevent that. While their current hot streak has pushed the Senators (28-21-4) up to fifth place, the gap between there and 13th is a mere eight points.
"We know it’s a dogfight," said Foligno. "You look at the standings and I don’t think there’s much room for error. There’s not too many points separating us from being out of a playoff spot. We know all the points count right now and it’s just a matter of continuing to play the way we are right now (and) giving ourselves a chance to win.
"If we’re doing what we need to do, most nights we’re going to be on the good side of the scoreboard. We’ve just got to continue that."
Around the boards
Defenceman Anton Volchenkov (upper body) practised with the team today and Clouston has listed him as "probable" for Tuesday night's matchup with the New Jersey Devils at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). "We'll see tomorrow," said Volchenkov, who's hopeful he'll be back in the lineup ... Leclaire skated on his own before practice but there is no timetable yet for his return ... Fewer than 2,750 tickets remain for the matchup with the Devils which is also a Subway Savings Game, with all regular-priced tickets available for 20 per cent off.