This year’s condensed NHL schedule — 56 games in 116 days — could give Flyers backup goalie Brian Elliott more playing time than usual.
“I’m just excited to get going here, no matter what,” Elliott, who is behind Carter Hart on the depth chart, said after Day 3 of training camp Wednesday in Voorhees. “We definitely have a condensed schedule and probably some more opportunities to get in there.”
Elliott, 35, said all players will “have to manage workloads — forwards, defensemen, and goalies all together. I think Hartsy and I are working hard together right now to get into that game frame of mind because we don’t have many opportunities here before we start on the 13th” against Pittsburgh.
Last season, Elliott (16-7-4 record, 2.87 GAA, .899 save percentage) was a solid backup, and his numbers look inflated because of a few poor outings. In the postseason, he was 1-1 with a 2.15 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
The Ontario native signed a one-year, $1.5 million free-agent contract in October, shortly after Hart publicly said he hoped the player affectionately known as “Moose” would return.
“That was first priority for us — to come back here,” said Elliott, who is preparing for his fourth season with the Flyers and 14th in the NHL. “We really like being part of this group as a family, and being in the area, you really see how passionate the fans are, how close we got in the bubble there in Toronto — one win away from being in the Final Four. It gives me motivation.”
The Flyers lost in the conference semifinals to the New York Islanders, four games to three.
“You only get so many kicks at the can here, and I feel like this group really has a good shot,” Elliott said. “We basically have the same group coming back and we all believe in each other and that we can take on these challenges.”
Elliott gives the Flyers a calm, been-there-done-that voice in the locker room.
“He’s an important part of our leadership group,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said after he re-signed Elliott. “His preparation and work ethic are exemplary.”
The top four teams in the new-look East Division will earn playoff berths this season. Elliott said it was a relief that games will be played at teams’ arenas and not in a “bubble.” The Flyers will play 28 of their 56 games at the Wells Fargo Center.
“The guys with wives and kids get to go home to them. I think it helps ground you,” Elliott said. “It makes you understand and put things into perspective. If things are tough at the rink, you can always come home and focus on what’s there.