OTTAWA, Ontario - After Brian Elliott's 2010-11 season, expectations for the goaltender were at an all-time low. He signed a two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues, was penciled in for a spot on the Blues' AHL affiliate, and then went and blew everyone's expectations out of the water--being named to the NHL All-Star Game in the process. The key for Elliott? Just getting back to basics, and keeping things simple.
"Sometimes, you look in the mirror, and you figure out what you did before to make you a good goalie, and I just tried to stay as patient and limit my movements as much as possible," Elliott explained. "And stay calm in there. When you're trying to get the win, you're trying to make saves, I think that's when you get in trouble, because you're not waiting for the pucks to you. That's when you start opening up and making holes for yourself."
This All-Star Game wasn't the first one Elliott was selected to play in. He got the nod to play for the Canadian All-Star Team in the 2009 AHL All-Star Game, and was poised to start there until everything in Ottawa fell apart, and Elliott came in to try and piece things back together. Even still, Elliott was a little disappointed to miss his last opportunity.
"I was a little bummed out that I didn't get to go in the AHL All-Star Game, but you're playing in the NHL, which is your goal," he said. "They said, 'Take the rest, you're staying up here the rest of the year,' and you can't really complain about that. This is obviously a little bit higher up on the scale, and I'm happy to be a part of it, and hopefully I won't have to miss this game."
Elliott certainly won't be missing this game, especially after his impressive showing during the Skills Competition. He was selected with Team Alfredsson's seventh overall pick--which was earlier than he expected.
"I thought I was going to be the last goalie picked," Elliott admitted after the draft.
"I didn't know if I was going to get picked, or if he was going to pick all the guys on the team, but [Daniel Alfredsson]'s a pretty good guy that way," Elliott said. "We always got along, and I always got along with all the teammates, so it's cool to be picked with them. Obviously, I think we're going to have the hometown cheers for our team when we score, so that'll help momentum-wise."
The Sens' representatives were happy to get another chance to play with Elliott, too, especially in a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere than their last season was.
"It's great to see Ells back here," Jason Spezza said during Media Day. "Anybody that was in our locker room or played with Ells is really, really happy for him, and for the bounce-back year he's had. He was always a professional, he worked hard, he never complained, he had a bit of a rough ride here towards the end but you like seeing guys have success when they've been through a year like he went through. We're really happy for him, and we're really happy we're playing with him tomorrow and the next day, so we can enjoy it all together."
Finally, but significantly, it turns out that Brian Elliott isn't a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, despite the inclusion of TMNT character Casey Jones on all of his masks during his NHL career to date.
"Everybody thinks, I'm just all into the Ninja Turtles and I have little action figures all over the place," Elliott said. "But I just grew up watching Eddie Belfour, Curtis Joseph, Felix Potvin, and they always had a theme to their masks. I wanted something I could put on every mask and have it be my theme. Casey Jones is just a hockey-player-turned-crime-fighter, and I liked that story a lot."