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Blackhawks finding holes in once-indomitable Brian Elliott

Blues goalie Brian Elliott scrambles to make a save on a shot by Andrew Ladd in the third period of Game 6. Elliott has allowed nine goals on 70 shots in the last two games. (Nam Y. Huh/AP)

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he never has contemplated replacing goalie Brian Elliott with Jake Allen. But that the question even had to be asked is a indication of how things have changed for the Blues in their first-round series with the Blackhawks.

Elliott was a near-indomitable force in the first three games — allowing four goals, with a .963 save percentage (stopping 105-of-109 shots) and 1.28 goals-against average. But in the last three games, Elliott has been increasingly more vulnerable, allowing 12 goals, with an .893 save percentage (100-of-112) and 3.56 goals-against average.

“The first three games we had the quality and quantity more than we anticipated coming into this series and had nothing to show for it,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “So it wasn’t like we wanted to change too much. We lost Game 4, [but] we started to get some scoring. The last two games it was the progression we’re looking for.”

The rise of TVR

Rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk had a minus-5 rating in the first four games of the series, but is a plus-1 in the last two, including the tying goal in Game 6 while rushing up ice off a pass from Jonathan Toews.

“I think it was huge,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “He’s been playing great. He’s been a big part of our back end and a big part of our team game.”

“Watching that play develop, it was sort of a nothing play. You could see Trevor flying up the side and he was abel to get a pretty good shot. Tazer made a pretty good pass and it was huge for him to get a goal. It’s a big goal and was probably exciting for him. We needed it.”

Vote of confidence

After playing just 6:51 of an 83-minute double-overtime tilt in Game 5, David Rundblad played 10:34 of a regulation victory in Game 6. Quenneville said he is comfortable playing Rundblad as much in Game 7.

“Absolutely.” Quenneville said. “He’s good. He got better and I think he got more comfortable as well.”

Blues undaunted

The Blues have lost in the first round of the playoffs the last three seasons, but are not overtly burdened by those failures heading into Game 7.

“We’re a new team. We’re not what we were the last couple of years or last year,” said center Paul Stastny, who is in his second year with the Blues after eight with the Avalanche. “We have a different feeling in here. Within the locker room we have the belief hat we’re mentally tougher than we were in the past. We’re excited for the opportunity. We’ll be ready.”

Numbers game

The road team in Game 7 is 24-21 (.533) in the salary-cap era (since 2005-06). Statistically that makes Game 7 the easiest for the road team to win. The only other playoff game the road team is over .500 in the salary-cap era is Game 4 (80-78, .506). … Jonathan Toews has four goals and no assists, with a minus-1 rating in four Game 7s. He had two goals in the first period to spark the 5-3 victory over the Ducks in the Western Conference final last year. … Patrick Kane has no goals and five assists with a minus-2 rating in four career Game 7s.