St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock’s comments on Monday night following his team’s 3-2 defeat to the Dallas Stars took hockey betting experts off guard, when he said that he wanted to sleep on the decision regarding which goalkeeper to have start Game 7 of the NHL playoffs second round series. Brian Elliott is as much to credit for the Blues’ playoff success as any other player on the team, but has been going through a rough patch. Even the guys in front of him are having bad period. The only goal that Elliott was directly responsible for came about when he turned the puck over with a terrible clearing attempt on the Stars’ second tally, only 20 seconds after they first scored. The other goals can be pinned on defensive mistakes that allowed the Stars to have open looks from in close.
Elliott has allowed three goals on seven total shots over 16:49. He was substituted with Jake Allen for the first time these playoffs. The younger of the two goalies delivered a much superior performance in front of him as he saw the same quantity of shots Elliott did, except they were stretched out over a period of 41 minutes as the Blues took over the remainder of the game. Maybe it’s just Hitchcock playing mind games, when he says that he wants to sleep on what he’s going to do, when he talked about his goalkeepers in his post-game news conference. Otherwise, it would be giving the Stars the hockey betting advantage, not starting Elliot.
It is worth noting that Hitchcock complimented his starting goalie, “sleep on it” comment aside. Elliot should have a chance to keep up the good work during Game 7. He has a .926 save percentage over 13 starts in the playoffs. It’s difficult to picture him not being the guy in Game 7 based solely on 16 out-of-character minutes out of 779 he has played in the postseason. In the meantime, Allen has played a total of 41:24 in the last 30 days and could have caught up on his favorite book in between some of the Stars’ attempts on goal.
Moreover, Elliott has already won a Game 7 for the Blues, making him a good reason to wager on St. Louis for people who bet on hockey. He made 31 saves as the Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a close game. Their postseason could have ended prematurely without him. It appears that Hitchcock has said many things he didn’t really mean over the playoffs to fool the press as well as his opponents. Then again, Elliott does have a history of being passed over for someone else who was not better or even worse. The Blues’ season is on the line, making it the worst possible time to revisit past mistakes.