PHILADELPHIA — This season has turned into a disaster for Brian Elliott.
Three weeks into 2011 and the Senators’ top goaltender is still looking for his first victory of the New Year as the club prepares to face the Flyers Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
It would surprising if coach Cory Clouston doesn’t give Elliott, who didn’t practise Wednesday, the start against the Flyers.
While Elliott is on a nine-game losing streak — his last win was Dec. 26 vs. the Penguins — Clouston still has his back.
Wasn’t pegged a No. 1
“(Elliott) played as well as we expected (against the Ducks). We’re not putting any of this on his shoulders,” said Clouston. “We’ve got to score him some goals. We’ve got to get him some offensive support.”
Elliott, who made 26 stops in Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Ducks, has been put in a bit of a bind by the Senators.
The Senators never meant him to be the No. 1 goalie, but he has been thrust into the role with the always-injured Pascal Leclaire nursing his latest issue — a groin/hip problem that could keep him out the rest of the season.
The Senators are battling to make sure Elliott doesn’t lose his confidence. He has only won two of his last 15 starts and has a 0-6-3 record during his nine-game winless skid with an .877 save percentage and 3.35 GAA.
Elliott has been smacked by a barrage of criticism and Clouston has been getting a lot of heat for sticking with him, but the Senators haven’t helped matters, scoring only 10 goals in the nine losses.
“He’s like a lot of our players: It’s easy to pile things on them and be negative on them,” said Clouston. “The guys have worked hard, they’ve done what we’ve asked of them, except score goals.
Kept team in games
“It’s the same with (Elliott). He’s played well. He’s kept us in the majority of games as of late. I’ve said this before, but it must be very frustrating for him to play well and not get the offensive support.
“One thing leads to another: When you score goals, often it relieves the pressure on your goaltender. You get the save, it relieves pressure off your forwards. We need to have both things going in order for us to win.”
The Senators would like to give Elliott a lead to work with.
“You feel for everyone, but especially for the goaltender,” said centre Chris Kelly. “(Elliott) is playing great and for whatever reason we’re not getting the run support for him. It’s a team thing. We’d rather stick together and pull together.”