Clouston: Sens have to step up

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:45 PM ET

SAN JOSE — The Senators’ best players have to be at their best.

That’s the message from coach Cory Clouston with the Senators looking to bounce back from losses to the Bruins and Sharks to start a five-game trip that continues Thursday night in Los Angeles.

While fingers are being pointed at Alexei Kovalev after his minus-3 performance in the 5-2 loss to the Sharks Tuesday, centre Jason Spezza wasn’t much better. The most startling stat was his 6-for-22 performance in the faceoff circle.

Clouston knows certain players have to step it up.

“That goes without saying. Your best players are not always going to be there, but you need them on a consistent basis to be your best players,” Clouston told reporters Wednesday following the club’s workout in Los Angeles.

“If they’re not, you hope that a role player fills in, but for sure your best players have to be your best players.

“(The top players) were not consistent enough (against the Sharks).”

Kovalev, the Senators’ top free-agent signing in the summer (two years, $10 million US), hasn’t scored in 11 games.

Clouston moved Ryan Shannon to the right side of Mike Fisher and Kovalev to spark the offence. It will likely remain that way Thursday.

“I thought when Ryan Shannon went up there, that line generated a lot more offensive opportunities,” said Clouston. “Sometimes it’s about finding the right mix.”

A happy Heatley

Unless they meet in the Stanley Cup final, Dany Heatley won’t face the Senators until next season.

He certainly enjoyed his first game against his former team. Heatley had two assists and was the second star Tuesday. “It was one of those nights where we were going pretty good,” said Heatley. “The puck was going good for us and we were creating chances and (Patrick Marleau) got two big goals.”

So, was it nice to get that first game over with?

“Yeah, it’s good to get the first one out of the way, but honestly once the game started, I was focused on my game and the Senators were focused on their game as well,” said Heatley.

This ’n’ that

Don’t expect a change on the blue line, meaning Chris Campoli will likely be a healthy scratch again ... Milan Michalek scored twice in his return to San Jose, but would have traded them for two points in the standings. “We just weren’t able to bury some of our chances,” said Michalek ... Daniel Alfredsson didn’t skate Wednesday, but Clouston said it was a maintenance day and that the captain is fine.


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