The Calgary Flames were the first team eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, and really, that’s no surprise. They were big underdogs against a very good Anaheim Ducks team and, as I wrote here, there were quite a few factors working against them.
The fact they went out so meekly? That’s … also not a huge surprise. It’s not a surprise because despite some impressive runs by both Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson during the regular season, neither goalie was good enough to carry the team when the level of competition went up.
Despite plaudits towards the end of the season, Elliott was always a long-shot to pay off for Calgary, and his atrocious play to start the year nearly cost his team a playoff spot before the race even started. Although he appeared steady in his years in St. Louis, name me one goalie who hasn’t been markedly better playing under Ken Hitchcock’s defence-first systems.
There was hope that Elliott’s early season struggles were simply an adjustment, a blip, and that his run of good play at the end of the year was more indicative of the kind of goaltending the Flames could expect in the playoffs, but at the end of the day, Elliott’s full-season oeuvre resulted in a .910 save percentage, which is, in a word, bad. And Calgary’s other option, Johnson? Yep, .910.
The Flames made the playoffs in spite of their goaltending, not because of it. They should start the search for an upgrade immediately.