Flueler poised for a test in West

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Lukas Flueler will get a chance to confirm the rumours this weekend.

The 67's rookie Swiss goalie will start against the Sarnia Sting tomorrow with at least one note-taking member of the Central Scouting Bureau in attendance.

Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea made the decision before the team left yesterday on a tough, three-game tour of the Western Conference -- and after getting a call from the CSB.

In preparing his lists for the 2007 NHL entry draft, the bureau's Al Jensen had heard that Flueler was recently looking more like the prospect he was expected to be upon arriving in Canada last August than the guy who had posted a 2-7 record and 4.19 GAA while dropping to 17th on the latest rankings of goalies in North America.

Kilrea was happy to arrange that Jensen see for himself.

"Plymouth is not as easy to get to (for the Grimsby-based Jensen) so I'll play Lukas in Sarnia," said Kilrea, who has noticed more of a dedication to hard work from the 6-foot-3, 190-lb. Flueler since he returned from the world junior championship. "His play is back to where it was at training camp. He's been exceptional."

Meanwhile, Ottawa (20-21-0-3) will have to be at the top of its game to come home with the 4-of-6 points captain Derek Joslin said is needed from this trip.

The biggest test comes tonight against a Whalers team that has allowed the fewest goals (117) in the OHL in producing a 30-12-1-2 record.

The Sting (26-15-2-3) is battling Saginaw for second place in the West Division while Guelph, which is Ottawa's opponent Sunday, is 23-15-2-7 and undefeated (in regulation time) in its last 11.

"For the lead game (of the weekend), I think we really have to come out and play well, for some confidence," said Kilrea, who will go with Brady Morrison between the pipes tonight. "Plymouth may be the team to beat in the league. The game will be a good yardstick for us.

"To be close enough and competitive enough with them will really help us. They are fast and physical and they're really going to be tough."

The 67's will have to do without new winger Matthieu Methot for at least this trip. An Ottawa native who has two goals and two assists in five games since being acquired from Barrie, Methot suffered a sprained ankle in a collision with the boards last weekend.

Tough jam

"For him to jam his ankle is going to hurt,'' said Kilrea. ''He was one of the guys contributing to the wins."

Kilrea hopes Methot can return for next weekend's home-and-home series with the Toronto St. Michael's Majors.

Friday's game at the Civic Centre will be the 2,000th of Kilrea's career. But first there are bigger fish to fry, starting with the Whalers tonight.

"You better show up for these games," Kilrea said of this western swing. "Our conference is so tight, you could wind up in ninth or be in sixth, challenging for fifth.

"If you could get four points, that would be wonderful. If you could get three out of six and be .500 on the road, you could be doing a good job."


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