Minor adjustment for Elliott?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

Brian Elliott's shaky play of late might earn him a demotion back to the AHL.

The goaltender likely won't start tonight when the Senators play host to the Flames at Scotiabank Place, but he's feeling the heat after posting a 5.42 GAA in his last four games and coming off a weak performance in Saturday's 4-3 OT loss to the Maple Leafs.

Senators GM Bryan Murray confirmed he won't address the team's need for a goaltender at tomorrow's NHL trade deadline, but wouldn't rule out the possibility of sending Elliott back to Binghamton in hopes the 23-year-old can rediscover his confidence.

The Senators likely make a deal in the summer or investigate the free-agent market on July 1, which could include Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom, Chicago's Nikolai Khabibulin and Boston's Manny Fernandez. The Blue Jackets are trying to deal the injured Pascal Leclaire, but it doesn't appear the Senators have any interest.

"That's one of the things I've got to address over the balance of the year and over the summer. Where do we go with our goaltending?" said Murray. "I don't think anybody is going to give us the type of goaltender that we feel is a top guy at this point.

"If they have them, they're keeping them. Maybe around draft time you can make a big deal and you can include that type of person if you want."

If Elliott is sent to the Baby Sens -- who are in a fight to make the playoffs and could use some help -- Alex Auld would likely be backed up for the rest of the season by Martin Gerber, who cleared re-entry waivers last Friday.

"I wasn't very happy, like a lot of people weren't, after the game Saturday. I thought (Elliott) has struggled a little bit lately," said Murray. "He's a young guy. This is what we wanted to find out when he came in and he was really going (well) in the AHL. He came in and played very well for us.

"Now, he's allowed probably a little bit of pressure to affect his play. I thought he made two or three great stops in the game and then he had a couple of pucks go through him that should have never gone through him. Goaltending is always going to be an issue until you have a guy that stops every one."

Elliott, who has been pulled in three of his last four starts, is trying to keep his head up. He had a meeting with coach Cory Clouston on Sunday and has been trying to work out the kinks in his game with goalie coach Eli Wilson.

"You just try to come to the rink and get better and work on the little things," said Elliott. "If you put all the little things together, hopefully, you can put a pretty good game together. You just have to do the things that got you to where you are. I was playing well.

"There is no reason I can't get back to that. If you start over-thinking things that's when things go bad. You just have to keep your mind straight and come to the rink excited to play."

Clouston had a different take on things.

"I don't think it's the pressure of the NHL game. There's a few areas we have to tidy up and the tough part about this is you don't have a lot of practice time," said Clouston. "There is the mental part of the game that (Elliott's) got to be better at.

"Our concern isn't losing him. Our concern is handling him properly. We've got to make sure his confidence stays high. He knows we believe in him. He's a confident guy. He knows he has to be better in certain areas, but so does the rest of the team. He wasn't the only guy that struggled (Saturday), but he's a position where it becomes magnified."

LINEUP UPDATE

Senators D Alexandre Picard won't play tonight because of a suspected groin strain. Expect to see D Brendan Bell against the Flames. D Christoph Schubert returned to practice after missing the weekend with a mild groin strain he suffered last Thursday. Captain Daniel Alfredsson skated on a line with C Mike Fisher and LW Nick Foligno at practice.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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