Rookie goalie's fine debut gives Sens new options

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:42 PM ET

OTTAWA — Mike Brodeur has given Cory Clouston pause for thought.

While the Senators coach wouldn’t talk about who will start tonight vs. the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place, Brodeur’s sparkling NHL debut — 22 saves in the 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday — certainly puts the 26-year-old in contention.

With starter Pascal Leclaire on the shelf until Wednesday’s game vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Senators went back to Brian Elliott. But the backup to the backup certainly deserves consideration.

Clouston, who doesn’t reveal his starter until game day, wouldn’t even broach the subject yesterday.

“Next question,” Clouston said after when asked if Brodeur will get another chance vs. the Bruins.

The Senators went with Brodeur Saturday to give Elliott

a rest. He had made 14 straight starts and 15 appearances since taking over from Leclaire (cheekbone) on Nov. 21. So it would be logical to go back to Elliott tonight.

However, he is only 7-7-1 since taking the reins, and is coming off an awful game in a 4-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

Elliott has also been in the net for the two previous games vs. the Bruins this season — both 4-3 shootout losses in which the Senators blew two-goal leads.

Top AHL netminder

As for Brodeur, his performance shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, despite the fact he had bounced around the minors for six years.

Senators assistant GM Tim Murray has said the club signed the veteran to solidify Binghamton, noting Brodeur was one of the best goalies in the AHL last season.

Brodeur, drafted 211th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2003, spent part of last season with the Rochester Amerks, compiling a 18-13-4 record with a 2.45 GAA.

As then-Binghamton coach, Clouston got a firsthand look at Brodeur.

“There’s always a question mark there until you see him in action at this level,” said Clouston. “He was able to do (Saturday) what he did against us in Rochester. We faced him a couple of times and we threw 50-plus shots at him. We ended up winning, but he kept them in the games.

“I believe (Rochester’s) record was 18 games below .500 without him and five games above .500 with him in the net. He’s very good. He’s come a long way ... He’s an intelligent goaltender and he showed a lot of poise.”

It helped that Brodeur got offensive support. Erik Karlsson had his first NHL goal, while Milan Michalek broke a nine-game slump. Jarkko Ruutu scored for the second straight game and Anton Volchenkov even chipped in.

With forwards Jason Spezza, Nick Foligno, Chris Neil and Shean Donovan all sidelined with knee injuries, that’s the kind of balanced offence the Senators right now.

“To get guys like Volchie, Ruutu and Erik scoring is very important,” said Clouston. “We’re not going to rely on one or two guys to score for us. We need scoring right throughout our roster ... It’s nice to see (players step up).”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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