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Brian Elliott looking forward to facing the Penguins

Image (1) Elliott-thumb-250x166-6926.jpg for post 204

Last night we wrote about how the Ottawa Senators are confident in their ability to handle the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, even hinting at our thoughts that the Senators actually do have a decent shot. The main reason why, beside their defense?

Brian Elliott.

Elliott saved the Senators from the laugh-fest that is Pascal Leclaire, seizing the starting goaltending spot and carrying the team at a time when it seemed as if they might never win a game again. Ottawa stumbled out of the Olympic break and it looked like they might actually fall out of the playoffs; Elliott was there to help steady the ship.

Now, his numbers are exactly great (2.57 GAA, 0.909 save %) but more importantly he won many more games than he lost. At one point, down the stretch, he won six straight games, including two straight shutouts. Now he’s carrying the Senators into the playoffs, taking on one of the most offensively gifted teams in the NHL. Per Bruce Garrioch of the Calgary Sun, who chronicles Elliott’s journey to this point:

“I don’t see how you can’t be excited about it,” said Elliott. “The guys say the real season starts now. Having the first practice of the post-season (on Monday) was a little more serious and I like it when it’s a little more competition and guys are bearing down on every shot.”

“I’m looking forward to it. All our guys -- shot-blockers as well -- it’s a challenge to shut those guys down,” said Elliott. “If you do (stop them) you give yourself a good chance.”

After being such a stumbling mess just one month ago, the Senators have suddenly become of the more dangerous teams in the playoffs. They are confident, and they’ve had success against Crosby and the Penguins before.

Should I make my prediction now?

Naw, I’ll wait.