MONTREAL — The Senators’ No. 1 goaltending job is now Mike Brodeur’s to lose.
If the 26-year-old AHL callup keeps winning, the Senators will have full-fledged controversy by the time they return to Ottawa for Boston on Monday.
With Pascal Leclaire sidelined by a concussion and Brian Elliott sick, Brodeur will be back in the net Saturday against the Canadiens.
Brodeur slept like a baby by the time he reached the club’s downtown Montreal hotel early Friday morning, only hours after he made 32 saves in a 2-0 shutout over the Rangers — an Ottawa victory that halted a five-game losing skid.
“He played very well. When we made mistakes, he was there for us and that’s what you need from your goaltender,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “That’s what we’ve had against us the last five or six games. I thought our guys played very hard in front of him.”
Recalled from Binghamton only seven hours before the opening faceoff Thursday, Brodeur jumped off the ice after a two-hour practice with the Baby Sens, grabbed lunch and hopped a Lincoln Town Car for the three-hour drive from Bingo to New York City.
“I just got into the backseat and slept on my sticks,” Brodeur said Friday. “The good thing for me was I didn’t have to think about (the game) a lot. That probably made it a lot easier for me. I didn’t really have a chance to get nervous.
“You walk into a place like Madison Square Garden, the atmosphere is unbelievable and it’s hard not to perform in that kind of atmosphere.
“We got to play Hamilton (in Montreal in November) and it was great that night, so I’m really looking forward to (playing again at the Bell Centre).”
It might come as a surprise to Ottawa hockey fans, but Brodeur is a disciple of former Senators goalie coach Eli Wilson, who was fired Wednesday. The two have worked together since Brodeur was a 16-year-old growing up in Calgary. He was Wilson’s first student.
While Leclaire and Elliott didn’t thrive under Wilson’s tutelage, the goaltending guru is a big reason why Brodeur decided to sign with the organization as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. He took the news hard when Wilson was fired.
“He’s done a lot for me. He has really helped me with the little parts of the game and make sure that I’m ready every night,” said Brodeur. “I was pretty upset (when he got let go). We’re pretty good friends. I’ve known him for a long time.
“He was one of the main reasons I signed with the organization. He was a big part of my career and I was sad to see him go. That’s the way things go in hockey. We’ll just have to move on.”
For his part, Leclaire won’t lie awake worried about the fact he and Elliott couldn’t stop the puck and, ultimately, cost Wilson his job.
“Maybe if we were on a 15-game winning streak it wouldn’t have happened, but you never know,” said Leclaire. “I’m not going to get down on myself. Obviously, I would have rather played a little better, but it’s a team decision. The worst thing is if you start feeling guilty.”
Leclaire said he was feeling better after taking a shot off the forehead at the morning skate in New York.
“It kind of knocked me out a bit. I started feeling dizzy, the headache kicked in and I got off the ice,” said Leclaire. “I feel like when I walk it’s a little bit of a rocking chair type of feeling, I kind of go back and forth. I feel better today. I’ll take it step-by-step.”