Flashback to the start of the 2009-10 season: there probably weren’t too many people following the NHL who would have pegged the goaltenders squaring off in the Stanley Cup Finals as Antti Niemi and Michael Leighton. Alas, injuries to Ray Emery and Brian Boucher opened the door for a waiver wire pickup in Leighton and the Blackhawks realization that their high-priced goaltender in Cristobal Huet was nothing more than high-priced allowed Antti Niemi to backstop the team to the Cup.

With Jonas Hiller’s lingering head problems and Ray Emery’s recent lower body injury in Anaheim, Dan Ellis could become the next NHL goaltender to play the role of unlikely hero.

Dan Ellis has been passed around the NHL like a tray of beef skewers at theScore Christmas party over the course of the past 10 months. Ellis’s rights were shipped to Montreal prior to free agency season last summer, but the former Nashville Predator would settle on signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The addition of Dwayne Roloson to the goaltending fold in Tampa would ultimately make Ellis expendable, and thus he found himself packing for Anaheim.

Ellis has appeared in 11 games with the Ducks since coming over from Tampa. He was meant to serve as Hiller’s backup, but would find himself in the number one role while Hiller continued to deal with his issues. The return of Ray Emery quickly pushed Ellis into the backup role once again.

Ellis figures to be in goal for the Ducks on Friday night with Emery’s status is now in doubt after he had to pull himself from Wednesday night’s game following some ‘lower body tightness’.

Randy Carlyle carefully guarded his words when speaking to the media about the exact nature of Emery’s injury, and wouldn’t say either way if it was related to the avascular necrosis that cause him to miss a year of hockey:

“His status is the same,” Carlyle said. ”He’s got a lower-body injury that we’re going to be very precautionary about. We felt that it was best for him to work out off ice and have a treatment this morning and we’ll make an assessment tomorrow morning [after] the morning skate.”

Carlyle wasn’t forthcoming on whether the injury is related to Emery’s hip surgery.

The best case scenario for the Ducks is a clean bill of health for Jonas Hiller, but neither he nor the team is willing to risk playing at less than 100%:

“I still hope I can play soon again. But at the same time, I know it doesn’t make sense and play at 90 percent because I can’t help the team.”

It’s likely that the Ducks will be as cautious with Emery as they have been with Hiller. With that, Dan Ellis is in line to get the start at home versus Divisional rival L.A. Kings tonight, and possibly again on Saturday when the close out the season back in L.A.

Ellis has been good, not great, since arriving in Anaheim. He’s appeared in 11 games and holds a record of 6-3-1 to go along with a 2.66 GAA and a lackluster .904 SV%. He’s certainly not the guy that Ducks fans envisioned between the pipes as the team looks to solidify a playoff spot, but he’s a capable NHL goaltender. Assuming the Ducks pick up a couple points in the standings and fend of the Dallas Stars, Dan Ellis could very well be asked to take the reigns entering the postseason.

Can the Ducks find playoff success with Dan Ellis in goal?