Apr 30, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) celebrates the game winning goal in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings in game one of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Scottrade Center. The Blues defeated the Kings 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013: Is Brian Elliott Capable of Leading the Blues to a Stanley Cup?

Brian Elliott was strong in last night’s 2-1 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings, but not without mistakes.  With just over 30 seconds left in the game Elliott was caught too deep in his net and allowed Justin Williams to score a soft goal forcing overtime.  After the goal was allowed, the Kings continued to test Elliott from the boards knowing that he may be caught too deep in his net again, but luckily for the Blues this wasn’t the case.

Apr 30, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) gives up a goal to Los Angeles Kings player Justin Williams (14) with 31 seconds left in the 3rd period in game one of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Scottrade Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

While Elliott grabbed the win and stood strong against 28 of 29 shots, Blues fans remember all too well what happened in the second round of the playoffs last season.  The Kings don’t have a short memory either and will be looking to test Elliott throughout this entire series in hopes of breaking him down once again.  The real question that Blues fans need to ask themselves is whether they believe that Elliott is capable of leading the Blues to the Stanley Cup Finals and ultimately winning a Stanley Cup.

The month of April has been a great one for Elliott as his return to stardom has been a quick one.  After a miserable start to the season and lack of any support from the defensive core of the Blues, Elliott was sent to the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL on a conditioning stint that saw him turn everything around.  Now back on top of the world, Elliott only lost two games in April going 12-2 including last night’s playoff win over the Kings.  The Blues were able to beat the Kings for the first time in nine games with Elliott in net.  While he is truly on top of the world at the moment, it takes 16 wins in 28 games to win the Stanley Cup.  If the Blues can manage to provide Elliott with the proper defense in front of him, can he return the favor and lead the team to victory?

Maybe is the only answer anyone can give you.  If the superhuman performances of the last month are any indication of what is possible, than Elliott might just be able to help the Blues win their first Stanley Cup and upset a lot of highly touted teams in the process.  Still, even if Elliott begins to falter, it will not necessarily signal the demise of the St. Louis Blues’ playoffs hopes.

The 2013 season is a much different season than last year.  This time around the Blues have Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold bolstering the blueline; this season the Blues have Jaroslav Halak ready to go in case of injury or cracking of Elliott; this season the Blues have rookies looking to prove themselves; this season the Blues know what defeat tastes like; this season the Blues have experience in the playoffs.  Not to mention, Jake Allen came into his own this season and proved that he is capable of leading this team as well.  Even if Elliott and Halak somehow can’t get the job done, there is a third man willing to take charge.

So while Elliott may have looked good in his first game, he was not without mistakes.  A couple mishandlings of the puck and a soft goal against, Elliott was still able to pick up the win and the series lead for the St. Louis Blues.  Hopefully on Thursday night Elliott will continue his incredible run from April into the month of March and help the Blues take a commanding 2-0 series lead against the Kings.

LET’S GO BLUES!

-Alex Hodschayan

Tags: Brian Elliott Los Angeles Kings Playoffs St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup

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