A couple of days beyond the opt-out period for the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers are at work. Wednesday was the third day that the Flyers had been back on the ice since announcing their playoff roster. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to catch up with a key player to the longevity of Philadelphia’s playoff hopes. Brian Elliott’s performance on the road for the Flyers has been as remarkable as Carter Hart at home. Here is what we took away from checking in with Elliott:
Every NHL player has had to keep in shape during the season pause. Before phase three, players could have opted out of playing in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs without any penalty. Some players have because they have a family to care for or feel that it’s responsible for their health. Brian Elliott is present and available on the Philadelphia Flyers roster for the playoffs. Like the recent moniker, Elliott “stayed ready” for a post-season return by skating at Ryan Suter’s rink.
“You never know what’s going to happen, but you want to be prepared if it does start up again. We went about two times a week to start, then got up to three.”Brian Elliott; 7/14/20
Fundamentals, like anything, need to be refurbished after some time away. Taking shots from teammates is a return to normalcy for Brian Elliott after a twisted 2020. Elliott, like the rest of the players competing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, has sacrificed a lot to play for a potential championship. It’s not only about his sacrifices. The family at home for those involved are the real MVPs.
“You have to appreciate what your family’s doing at home and what sacrifices they’re making. I don’t think that gets brought up in the media as well. If I can say it publicly, thank you to my wife for sure for taking care of the little ones while we’re gone.”Brian Elliott; 7/14/20
It’s fitting that Brian Elliott is a goaltender. The position requires a clear mind and balance. While players are pulled in two different directions, one towards their career and the other towards home, it makes this particular post-season the most difficult. Another nugget in this oddity will be the lack of fans. It’s particularly unique for a goaltender to play in a quiet setting.
“It’s going to be really weird. I really have no expectations. It might be like your exhibition games in inter-squad.”Brian Elliott; 7/14/20
Adjusting to the Playoff Format
“We’re definitely looked to as far as how we’re going to handle things inside and outside the locker room. I think our group, that internal drive is pretty big.”Brian Elliott; 7/14/20
Part of what makes the Philadelphia Flyers a talented team isn’t just skill, but leadership. Veteran leadership molds the work ethic and perspective of the younger players. Brian Elliott, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jake Voracek are the leaders of a Flyers team that continues to exist with a chip on its shoulder. The drive never diminished for Philadelphia. Don’t expect the Flyers to “go through the motions” during the exhibition game.
“I think it will be good to have that first exhibition. I think it will be still a battle. I think we’re going to go all out.”Brian Elliott; 7/14/20
The game in question is of course a rivalry matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins. What better way to get the blood pumping than an exhibition against your fiercest rival?
The Flyers split the series with Pittsburgh 2-2 in 2019, a year in which they of course rallied back from what felt like an impossible 3-1 deficit in a Stadium Series game to win 4-3 in overtime. The two will clash for a fifth time this season on July 28th.
But even if it wasn’t the Pens, that is how a professional handles this situation. Every single game, scrimmage, practice, or meeting needs to begin with the best possible choice. From the first practice to the final game, the most poised team will be the one that has the deepest run. Alain Vigneault is taking a look at every player he has on the Stanley Cup playoff roster. Brian Elliott’s flexibility in how he will be used as a goaltender in these playoffs proves the kind of professional he is.
“Whatever comes my way comes my way. This is an unprecedented time, so you just have to be ready for what’s handed to you, and I’ll be ready.”Brian Elliott; 7/14/20
Mentoring Carter Hart
Throughout his career, Brian Elliott has attained extensive playoff experience. The starting goaltender of the Philadelphia Flyers, Carter Hart, will enter his first post-season. Without the fans, the element of hockey is drastically different for goaltenders. A lot of the mental aspect is preparing for the home and away atmospheres. In this unique post-season, Elliott may learn from Hart on how to handle the playoffs.
“It’s definitely a unique experience and we’re all going to have to handle it our own way. We’ll take it as we come. If I can help him, great. If he can help me, great too.”Brian Elliott; 7/14/20
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