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Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Elliott uncertainty making Halak No. 1?

By Pierre LeBrun

ST. LOUIS -- A bit of news here Tuesday ahead of the Blues-Sharks playoff series with St. Louis netminder Brian Elliott leaving practice early with what head coach Ken Hitchcock termed a minor injury.

The Blues coach added that Elliott would almost definitely be available for Game 1 Thursday night.

"He's got a little bit of an upper-body issue, day-to-day," Hitchcock said.

The Blues had two on-ice sessions Tuesday, and Elliott didn’t come out for the second one.

"Rather than just try to squeeze the big, long [practice], we took him [out after] the short one and we'll get him back out here tomorrow or the next day and see how it is. He'll be fine though,’’ said Hitchcock. "We didn't want to aggravate it. We've been nursing it for a week. We didn't want to take him too far down the lineup. He got a lot of work in the first 45 minutes."

Elliott led the NHL this season with a 1.56 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.

One would think that would sway the coach’s decision once and for all toward goalie Jaroslav Halak.

The Blues are blessed with having two Vezina Trophy-worthy netminders to choose from but my sense is that they'll go with Halak, who had playoff magic in 2010 with the Montreal Canadiens, when he backstopped two improbable upset series wins over Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hitchcock originally told reporters here that he wouldn’t name his starter until Thursday but joked Tuesday he might move that up.

"I'm going to move it up a day so you guys can write about something," Hitchcock said, joking. "I'll give it to you on Wednesday. I'm going to give you a little treat."