FALCONS: McElhinney named AHL Goaltender of the Month for October

Thursday, 11.01.2012 / 3:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Curtis McElhinney is making an early case for comeback player of the year in the American Hockey League, mere months after the word "retirement" crept into his mind.

The veteran netminder has been one of the many bright spots for the first-place Springfield Falcons, who lead the Northeast Division as well as the AHL's Eastern Conference through seven games. He was named the league's Goaltender of the Month for October in a release issued by the AHL this afternoon.

Such recognition for McElhinney comes less than a year after major abdominal surgery that caused him to miss most of the 2011-12 season, and forced him to legitimately ponder life after hockey.

"When I went into surgery, I didn't know what the percentages were," McElhinney told BlueJackets.com. "It was a wait-and-see situation until everything was said and done. Obviously, it worked out alright.

"It was a pretty scary moment when you start contemplating that stuff seriously, but hey, everything worked out and I'm thrilled to be back playing."

McElhinney, 29, owns a 5-1-0 record and is tied for most wins by a goaltender in the entire AHL. His last outing was on Sunday afternoon against his former club, the Portland Pirates, and he made 26 saves in a 3-2 win as the Pirates pushed hard down the stretch.

If folks are surprised by the Falcons' hot start, they need to look no further than the goaltender. McElhinney holds the fifth-best goals-against average in the AHL (1.51) and also the fourth-best save percentage (.949), giving his teammates a larger margin for error.

"Everyone's on the same page and working together," McElhinney said. "They're so committed to doing everything right. We're breaking pucks out quickly, blocking shots, and on top of that they're scoring three or four goals a game. That makes any goalie's life a little bit easier."

Blue Jackets fans remember McElhinney's name as early as February, when he was part of a deal with the Phoenix Coyotes that also saw two draft picks sent to Columbus. The Blue Jackets had interest in his services at the time, but his injury prohibited him from taking the ice in an organized setting until training camp.

On July 1, McElhinney was one of Columbus' first transactions as he signed a two-way deal. He's given Springfield exactly what they were looking for: an established, professional goaltender that can play a lot of games and give them a chance to win every night.

"(The honor) is certainly a nice reflection of our good start and how committed everyone has been here," McElhinney said. "Especially in those one-goal games, you make a key save and then the guys come right back to score and give you a cushion...that shows how well things have been going for us.

"It's an indication, too, of how everyone has bought into the systems and structure our coaching staff has put into place."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 2 2 1 0 3
M. Calvert 2 2 0 3 2
R. Johansen 2 1 1 -1 2
B. Dubinsky 2 0 2 0 2
D. Savard 2 0 2 1 2
B. Jenner 2 0 2 -1 2
D. MacKenzie 2 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 2 1 0 1 1
A. Anisimov 2 0 1 -1 1
C. Atkinson 2 0 1 1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 1 1 0 .905 3.00
 
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