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Flames are back to square one in search for starting goalie

Nate Thompson, Brian Elliott, Sam Bennett

Anaheim Ducks’ Nate Thompson, left, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Brian Elliott, centre, as Sam Bennett, right, watches during the first period of Game 4 in a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)


The Calgary Flames thought they’d solved their goaltending problem. They thought they were in good shape. Finally.

They thought wrong.

The way their series with the Ducks just went, it is tough to imagine Brian Elliott getting a contract extension and returning next season.

Elliott, a pending unrestricted free agent, started all four games against Anaheim. He lost the first three, then only lasted 5:38 of Game 4 before being replaced by journeyman backup Chad Johnson.

Read more: Elliott ‘still can’t explain’ soft opening goal in Game 4 loss

Elliott finished the playoffs with an .880 save percentage -- a big reason the Flames were swept.

Now, if his regular season had gone smoothly, Elliott’s playoff numbers could perhaps be excused. But his regular season did not go smoothly. It started horrifically, got significantly better after Christmas, then trailed off again down the stretch.

It’s unfortunate, really, because Elliott had hoped to be so much more for the Flames after being acquired from St. Louis.

“I’m going to do my best to be the backbone of the team,” he said over the summer, “and try to be a leader and just do whatever I can to be the rock for the guys on the back end and let the guys do the rest of the work.”

At 32 years old, Elliott is no spring chicken either. So, instead of giving him another chance, the Flames may look to sign 30-year-old Ben Bishop or 28-year-old Scott Darling. Both are pending UFAs.

Or maybe they get Marc-Andre Fleury from Pittsburgh. He’s only signed for two more years, which could provide a bridge to youngsters Jon Gillies, Mason McDonald, or Nick Schneider.

It’s all up in the air for GM Brad Treliving -- that is, assuming he’s still the GM.

Treliving is like his two goalies. He doesn’t have a contract extension either.