Eight seconds into Brian Elliott’s first game back in St. Louis after being traded to the Calgary Flames during the draft in June, he smothered the puck for his first save. The crowd, though thin with the mid-week game, broke into the ‘Moose!’ chant that had become so familiar during his time with the Blues.
Elliott spent five years here in St. Louis, and made last year the best of his career to date. Fans were eager to express their appreciation.
Troy Brouwer, who signed with the Flames as a free agent over the summer, was part of the homecoming, too. Though Brouwer played just a season in St. Louis after coming over in the T.J. Oshie trade, his contributions to the Blues Western Conference Finals run are genuinely meaningful to the fans.
So when a tribute video featuring moments from Elliott’s and Brouwer’s time in St. Louis ran on the Jumbotron during the first period, it unsurprisingly drew a rowdy cheer.
Action on the ice, however, was devoid of celebration-inducing events for much of the night. Though the Blues did plenty to sabotage their own efforts, Elliott shut down St. Louis 4-1 as the Flames delivered the Blues their first home loss of the season.
Even Elliott, always a fierce competitor, felt there had to be room for some ceremony in this game. The return to St. Louis was special to him; when the video tribute flashed on the screen, he wanted to be sure to enjoy the moment.
“I thought it was coming, being the first time back here, and I wanted to savor it,” Elliott said. “There were times in the past where I was too focused to look, but I wanted to take it all in and I had a great time here with my teammates on the other side. It’s fun to look back sometimes.”
Elliott had the freedom to soak it in as much as he pleased, as the Blues failed to generate much pressure against him. He was clean through two periods, and did not surrender a goal until Kevin Shattenkirk beat him when the Blues had a five-on-three advantage early in the third.
“He was great tonight. We didn’t make it too hard on him, either,” Shattenkirk said of Elliott. "He’s too good of a goalie to not have traffic in front of him, not have grade-A scoring chances. We know how sound he is and how sound he can be for a team and we didn’t really do anything to make him uncomfortable.”
Brouwer contributed to the homecoming theme with an assist on the Flames first goal of the night, scored by Dennis Wideman, another former Blue who played in St. Louis for two seasons from 2005-2007. Brouwer also got tangled up with Shattenkirk later in the game, earning a roughing penalty. Shattenkirk was in good spirits about the incident after the game, depriving us of a potentially scandalous storyline.
“It was on him and on me,” Shattenkirk said. “I was playing around with the puck in my skates. I was able to just shield myself last second. He gave me a nod to make sure I was all right.”
“I know he likes to play like that, unfortunately,” Shattenkirk laughed.
The win was the Flames second in consecutive days as Calgary looks to rebound from a rocky start to the season. Elliott was in net for both wins, and figures to be an integral piece if the Flames are to improve upon their fifth-place finish in the Pacific division last season.
When he was traded in June, most Blues fans didn’t relish seeing Elliott go. That’s the bitter side of sports; the Blues were committed to Jake Allen, and were not in a position where it was feasible or economical to keep both goaltenders.
The Blues have moved on, and so has Elliott. But if there are any takeaways from Tuesday night—and Blues fans should hope there aren’t many, as their team was decidedly lethargic—it’s that St. Louis will always hold a special place in Brian Elliott’s heart.
“I knew how much the fans kind of loved that,” Elliott said of the crowd’s ‘Moose!’ chant that kicked off the evening. “It was special for me hearing that and really kind of got me into the game and have that feeling a little bit. I’m sure they don’t like the result now, but it meant a lot and that video tribute meant a lot a well.”
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