The Senators are still looking out for a No. 1.
While the Senators kick off the regular season next Friday against the Buffalo Sabres at Scotiabank Place, neither Pascal Leclaire nor Brian Elliott has stepped up to seize the top goalie job.
Elliott is expected to start Friday in the first game of the back-to-back series against the Rangers in New York and Leclaire will play Saturday at home. Senators coach Cory Clouston would like one of them to take charge.
So, will whoever starts the first game against the Sabres be the club’s No. 1 goalie?
“I guess in the perfect world, yep,” said Clouston following a skate at Scotiabank Place. “But that’s not even for sure. There are injuries, there are slumps and there are a lot of different variables that go into it.
“I’m going to reiterate: Whichever goaltender steps up, we’ll go with. They both, at times last year, did it, but not consistently enough to start at camp and say, ‘This guy is our go-to-guy’ right off the bat.
“Both of them still have their best hockey ahead of them and we’ve seen a lot of positives.”
But the Senators haven’t seen enough to hand over the keys yet. Elliott wasn’t good in his first start against the Leafs, but was better in a 6-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Saturday at home.
Leclaire hasn’t been tested a whole lot in the two games he’s played. But he’s given up eight goals in losses to the Habs and Leafs.
Anybody who thinks rookie goalie Robin Lehner is going to challenge for the No. 1 spot can forget it. He skated Friday with the group of players who will be assigned to Binghamton next Monday.
Clouston is trying to take some pressure off the goalies.
Said Clouston: “Have they been great? No. They’ve had their ups and downs, but it’s the pre-season.
“The thing with them is because of the position they’re in if they have a tough period or tough game, it’s headlines. If one individual player has a tough period or tough game, it’s hidden among 19 other guys.
“If (Daniel Alfredsson) has a tough game or (Jason Spezza) or any of the other players have a tough game, you don’t notice them near as much because of the position.”
Leclaire won’t worry about the results of exhibition games. He has been working hard with goalie coach Rick Wamsley to get ready for the season.
“There’s no pressure,” said Leclaire. “You’ve just got to do what you do every day and see what happens. You have to take it one day at a time because things change quickly in this game.
“You’re only as good as your last game. You have to focus on what’s in front of you and things will take care of themselves.”
Leclaire said he’s felt good about camp.
“I’ve been able to move well around the net and I felt my control of the game was a little better (against Toronto),” said Leclaire. “I’ve had some good practice and Wamsley has helped a lot just working on little things. So far, so good.”
It has to get better quickly.