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:
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?