Clouston makes name for himself

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

Cory Clouston will celebrate his one-year anniversary behind the Senators bench Tuesday.

And there are plenty of reasons to smile.

As the Senators prepare to face the Sabres Wednesday in Buffalo, Clouston, who has a 50-32-8 record since taking over as coach from Craig Hartsburg on Feb. 2, 2009, is in the midst of a franchise-record nine-game winning streak.

While Clouston was an unknown commodity when he was promoted from AHL Binghamton by GM Bryan Murray, Clouston is now getting consideration for the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s top coach as the Senators are not only in a playoff position but are making a push for home-ice advantage in the first round.

“We’ve definitely come a long way as a team and as a group and (Clouston) has done a great job getting us together,” said centre Mike Fisher. “He’s really made it not about ‘Me’ and ‘I,’ but about ‘Us’. That’s how we’re going to have success.

“That’s what we have done lately. We know we can be much better and we want to be successful in the playoffs. That’s a true test. He deserves credit. There’s no question there’s been good success with him here. He’s given us a good plan and motivated us individually and as a group to be better.”

Clouston won’t take credit for the Senators’ success. He said he’s pleased with the way the players have bought into the program and how they’ve dealt with adversity —such as injuries.

“To me, the effort and the consistency have been there for the most part,” said Clouston. “We don’t always win, but for the most part we play hard and we play well. We’ve shown a lot of character throughout the time I’ve been here and the guys have been nothing but professional and have wanted to put the team first.”

Tough break

W Nick Foligno wasn’t feeling much better Monday after breaking his right leg blocking a shot by Montreal D Marc-Andre Bergeron on Saturday.

“It’s pretty tough. I was pretty upset after the game. It was obviously not what I wanted,” said Foligno, who has a broken fibula. “I want to be with my teammates, especially trying to get into the playoffs. I know they’re going to do a great job and it’ll give me a chance to get back for a push into the post-season.”

Foligno said the shot caught him where there isn’t any protection.

“He hit me in that exact spot where there’s no padding between your skates and your shin pads,” said Foligno. “I knew something was wrong when I tried to get up and didn’t have any power to get back to the bench. It probably wasn’t smart for me to try to come back (into the game), but I just wanted to be with the guys.”

Foligno’s injury will force Clouston to make roster changes. C Peter Regin skated on the wing with Mike Fisher and Alex Kovalev. C Jesse Winchester, who has missed 11 games with a knee injury, will return against the Sabres. D Anton Volchenkov missed practice Monday, but will play against Buffalo.

Leclaire ready to go

G Pascal Leclaire is better after suffering a concussion on Jan. 14 and will dress as the backup in Buffalo. The Senators sent G Mike Brodeur back to the Baby Sens Monday. Leclaire, who was on the ice for all of practice at the Bell Sensplex, said he’ll be ready to play soon. “I just need a few more practices to get my timing back,” said Leclaire. “I’m used to coming back (from injuries), so I know what it takes.”

Elliott honoured

For the second straight week, G Brian Elliott has been recognized by the NHL for his contribution to the club’s winning streak. Elliott, who had a 3-0 record with victories over New Jersey, Pittsburgh and Montreal, was named the second star of the week. “(Chris) Campoli just said I need to take the (defencemen) out for dinner soon,” said Elliott, who was named the No. 1 star last week. “It feels good. We’re finally clicking as a team. We have confidence that we can play against anybody in the league.” Coyotes captain Shane Doan was named the first star of the week, while Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom was the third star.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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