Clouston: Sens' cup still half empty

DON BRENNAN , QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

Cory Clouston’s list of problems is getting shorter by the day.

As reluctant as the Senators coach is to acknowledge it.

“There are still areas to improve on,” Clouston insisted Monday.

Like what? Your team has won six in a row.

“We’re playing well,” he conceded, “but we’ve still got some guys trying to find their stride coming back from injury.”

Hmmm. Okay. So what else?

“The power play,” he said. “The last three or four games I think we’re 5-for-15, but last game we only had one power play and had six shots, hit a post and had some real good puck movement.”

That’s a problem? Your power play is last in the league. For it, that’s a banner week.

“The last little while we haven’t played a full 60 minutes, the way we want to play,” said Clouston.

Come on. Your team has given up seven goals in six games.

“The neutral zone has to be tightened up a little at times,” said Clouston. “We still get a little bit vulnerable for goals versus the rush.

“Those are a couple of areas. Each game it changes.

“You’re never satisfied with your game. We’re happy the way we’re playing. We know we can be better.”

With all the forwards now back from the injured list except fourth-line centre Jesse Winchester, Clouston’s new dilemma could be in finding enough ice time for everybody. Jason Spezza is back between Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek in a reunion of the recovered. Peter Regin has played well enough to maintain second-line status, so he remains between Ryan Shannon and Alex Kovalev. The Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil combination stays intact and would be considered the fourth line, except some might consider the fourth line the Nick Foligno-Mike Fisher-Jonathan Cheechoo line, if only because Cheechoo is the least productive forward (using points per game) of them all.

Fisher, the team’s second- leading scorer and the bearer of the heaviest workload during the injuries, only played 16˝ minutes Saturday. That’s like a day off for him.

Foligno is a guy the Senators want to get going. He hasn’t scored in 13 games.He did, however, make an unbelievable pass to Alfredsson for Ottawa’s first goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Bruins. He also has the team’s best plus-minus, at plus-10.

“I do feel that,” Foligno said when asked if he’s getting the chances. “Maybe I’ve got to get a little more tenacious in the scoring zone, but I don’t think (not) scoring goals has anything to do with how I’m playing. I feel like I’m playing pretty solid for the team. I like the way my defensive zone (play) is. My plus-minus is good ... I feel like I’m helping the team in other areas. Guys are stepping up and scoring as well. Obviously I want to score goals, that’s a lot of fun for me.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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