Horseman Clouston looks for fast start

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

A former horse trainer, Cory Clouston is looking to get the Senators out of the gate quicker.

Slow starts have plagued the team in the past week and throughout the season.

"We always used to have our horses have a good workout the day before a race," said the Senators coach, whose father Wayne and uncle Rod Hennessy are responsible for his background in the world of trotters and pacers. "They always seem to race better. Their legs seemed a lot better. I don't know if it's any different for hockey players, but there is definitely something to that."

Clouston had just presided over an up-tempo practice, a luxury he was not afforded because of travel the day before an early 3-0 deficit turned into a 5-2 loss to the Canucks Thursday.

READY FOR PUCK DROP

The Senators are just 2-16-2 when trailing after one period, while they've held a lead just 11 times (10-1-0) at the first intermission.

"We've got to make sure we're focused, we're ready from the drop of the puck, and we can't let any other distractions affect us," said Clouston.

Chomping at the bit for today's game is one of Clouston's studs, Jason Spezza. The top-line centre was benched for most of the second half of the second period against Vancouver, after being on the ice for three goals against.

"Whether it's me or it's anybody, when you have a start to the game like that, usually you're not going to play too much the rest of the night," said Spezza. "Cory made the right move, the team got going a little bit. I'll be better (today)."

To do that, Clouston said Spezza has to be more consistent with the little things..

SPEZZA'S 'NO ROBOT'

"What we expect is certain structure," said Clouston. "Obviously, he's an elite player as far as offence is concerned. We've got to make sure (to not) break his creativity, don't turn him into kind of a robot. But he also has to be responsible defensively. In the little areas of the 'D' zone and at their blue line. Just be tighter, so to speak."

Clouston also said there were other players who "didn't play to their potential."

"It's how I coach," he said. "That's what got me to this level. Obviously, you learn and you make adjustments. (Spezza's) got to be made aware of when he's doing things right and when he's doing things wrong. Like I said he's no different than any other player.

Spezza skated on a line with Dany Heatley and Josh Hennessy yesterday, but that was before the trade. Mike Comrie could slide on the right side with Spezza and Heatley for today's game.

DON.BRENNAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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