WWYD Wednesday: Chad Johnson or Brian Elliott?

The Flames are facing a bit of a conundrum in net. 

Chad Johnson has cooled down after setting a torrid pace through November and the start of December. In his last three appearances, he has posted a SV% of .882, .862 and .810. Brian Elliott’s last three starts, in contrast, have been .926, .923 and .926. 

Johnson still owns, by far, the better results for the season of course. On the other hand, up until this season Elliott was certainly the better puck stopper, which is why the Flames acquired him in the summer to be the club’s new starter.

So who should Glen Gulutzan bet on moving forward?

The obvious and popular choice will be Johnson, because all recent evidence (besides the last three games) points in his direction. He was one of the best goalies in the league for a six-week span recently and was a major factor in the Flames climbing out of their early season hole and back into the playoff race. 

On the other hand, betting on Johnson as the starter means ignoring years and years of data that suggests Elliott is the better goalie:

Dashboard 1-20

So you have to believe that Johnson has taken a big leap forward at the age of 30 and/or that Elliott has taken a major step back at 31. Possible, but improbable. 

So what to believe? We’ve watched Johnson be the much better puckstopper this year, but we have seasons of cold data suggesting Elliott should be the guy. 

It’s not an easy choice.

For now, Gulutzan could fall back on the hot hand theory and just go with the guy who played better last game, which means Elliott has the ball now. Of course, that doesn’t really make sense if they think Johnson is the better puck stopper now. 

On the other hand if they still have faith in Elliott, then this seems like a decent opportunity to see if he can round into form. 

So what do you think? Is Chad Johnson still the Flames’ starter?

  • pcj42

    I personally think Elliot was playing a bad stretch, luckily Johnson was hot when he was, but Elliot is the better goaltender. I think he’s gonna step up and be our Number 1 tender now and help us to a playoff spot.

    • Southboy

      I agree that he will be our number one going forward and play closer to where he was in St. louis, but considering he is playing in front of our defence and not the blues, he will never have the same save %, as for playoffs i disagree, we had to have our goalie play out of his mind for a month just to be a wild card team, all arrows point to us regressing back to normal and i believe just above the canuks and coyotes

  • Shoestring

    Ebbs and flow to a season. Johnson had a very good run but has been average of late. Switch goalies, like was done when Elliot was playing poor. In my eyes neither goalie has played well enough to be the defacto #1. Even Lundqvist in New York sat for a few games when Raanta was playing better.

  • Eggs Bennett

    Go with Elliott for now. Give him a chance with some more consistent starts to prove he’s still got it. This hot hand strategy worked in 14/15 with Ramo and Hiller and got us into the playoffs.

    If anything, this will motivate whoever is bench warming to work harder to snap at the next opportunity.

  • ThisBigMouthIsRight

    Its Really Hard To Say… Both have been the victim(and the team as a whole)the past few games of unbelievable bad puck-luck, Fluke deflections and follow the bouncing & ping-pong weirdness of the(what seems like super bouncy balls on rubber ice)instead of a frozen puck. Right now its a bit of a 50/50 crap-shoot as to who will regain their above average puck-stopper form. The team also hasn’t been very strong in front of them which dose not help the situation, they really do seem to have fallen back to old bad habits or panic mode defense, they seem to be fighting it at every decision they make and that dose not help anyone..
    This is either a odd blip on the radar or the scary reality of what this team just is. Better than a top 6 Draft pick but not good enough to make the playoffs is a Very Bad Place to be…

  • OKG

    I really don’t care. Both are “good enough”. Johnson will be cheaper and not cost us a 3rd round pick, so I prefer him. But if it’s Elliott I’m fine with him too. And I am also interested in giving David Rittich a shot at the major leagues.

    This team needs to get better at defense/shot attempt suppression/scoring chance generation, the Kings have essentially the same record as us with Peter Budaj in net which says all you need to know about goaltending.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Nothing would be better for the Flames than a goaltending controversy, with both goalies playing to keep the net. If they both play well, we can worry about which goalie is better at the end of the season.

  • Toofun

    The only real choice here is to ride the hot hand.

    The more interesting topic of discussion in my opinion is how to get the team in front of the goalie back to playing a lower event defensive game. Job 1 right now is to make the playoffs. In order to do that, they need to grind out points in as many games as possible. Calgary has shown that they have the lineup that is capable of doing this. They just have to get back to making their own zone their top priority. Clear the guys out from in front of the net so the goalie can see the puck. Eliminate second chances by clearing rebounds. When you get control of the puck, make sure you get it out of your zone. Penalties are only ok if they prevent a scoring chance against us or if you take the other guy with you to the box. Basic non-sexy boring stuff.

    • DeadRedRedemption

      I agree.

      The Flames have recently looked more like the team that lost to Edmonton at the beginning of the season than the defense first team that was playing without JG.

      Hope that GG is not trying to bring back the abomination if a system he was pushing at the beginning of the season again.

      That defensive system was working when JG was out and worked when he first got back (And led to some offence). The Flames don’t have the size nor the guns to keep up with the best teams without playing a low event, defense first system.


  • RKD

    I don’t know if Johnson has cooled off the Flames hung him out to dry against Columbus, Tampa and San Jose. I don’t think he’s fatigued but he can still steal games for us. I would like Elliott to get hot but even against Arizona the 2 goals he got beat on were terrible. He was caught behind the net on the first one and the second one just slowly beat him. He should have a shutout that game. He still looks just ok. Start Elliott against Vancouver and see what he can do against them.

  • Scarface

    Given the options, the 4th line needs to have Hathaway on it. He skates hard (and fast), hits hard, and punches hard (see Domi’s face).

    I’m getting annoyed with being annoyed every time they scratch him from the lineup.