Sens 'frustration' hits home

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

After a good start, the Senators are spinning their wheels.

With Saturday's 3-2 loss, their record slipped to 7-5-2 and they dropped to ninth in the Eastern Conference standings.

That’s right, folks, Ottawa would once again be on the outside looking in if the playoffs started today. With five months left, that might not seem like a valid concern, except the Senators are also enjoying a relatively cushy part of the schedule. Nine of their first 14 games have been at home, as are seven of their next nine, starting tomorrow vs. the Oilers.

All of which made the loss to the Devils — after leading by a pair — especially difficult to swallow.

“It’s frustrating when you’re up 2-0, against that team at home,” said Daniel Alfredsson, who extended his point streak to nine games. “We should not let that lead get away.

“It’s a very tough loss.”

Other than Milan Michalek and Matt Carkner, the off-season additions have been mostly disappointing.

Jonathan Cheechoo, with just two assists, has clearly struggled to keep up with the pace. Alex Kovalev has only six points (four goals) and is a team-worst minus-5. And Pascal Leclaire, while making some big saves that have given the Senators a chance to win most nights, owns some sorry numbers. Along with his 5-4-1 record, his .900 save percentage is 31st best in the NHL, while his 2.70 goals-against average ranks 19th.

The two bad goals he allowed Saturday sunk the Senators, and Leclaire was the first to admit it. Make that the second.

Asked about Leclaire’s game other than the soft goal he allowed to David Clarkson, coach Cory Clouston would only concede it was “okay. I don’t know what else to say.”

The Senators need Leclaire to be better than “okay” to make the playoffs.

Ice chips

D Brian Lee admitted that seeing the Binghamton Senators in town was a reminder of how happy he is to be in the NHL. Since turning pro in 2007-08, the first-round pick has played 91 games for Bingo and 63 for Ottawa. “You want to play here for more than just not to play in the AHL,” said Lee. “It’s a good reminder to work hard and make sure you don’t take anything for granted.” Lee scored his third NHL goal on what was an uncharacteristic up-ice rush when he beat Martin Brodeur (looks good on the resume, doesn’t it) with a shot that should have been easily handled. “I saw Cheech going to the net and tried to put a rebound there for him,” said Lee. “It’s better to be lucky than good, I guess.” Lee, who has played four games with the Senators in his most recent stint, says his confidence is “getting better every day.” He’s not concerning himself with how long this tour of the NHL lasts. “That’s not my decision,” said Lee. “That’s up to the guys that stand behind the bench, and the guys that sit up top.” ... GM Bryan Murray visited with the referees to find out why Jarkko Ruutu was given a misconduct in the third. Devils tough guy Andrew Peters charged that Ruutu’s fingers found their way to his mouth during a scrum, but Ruutu denied such a thing happening and apparently there’s video proof to back up his claim. “There’s a pile-up and I ended up getting 10 minutes. I don’t know why,” Ruutu said after the game. What did Peters say to Ruutu with all the words he had for him as the two sat in the box? “I don’t know, I never listen to guys,” said Ruutu. “He just doesn’t like me, I guess.”


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