If Pascal Leclaire wants his job back, he’s going to have to earn it.
While Leclaire is recovered and ready to go after suffering a groin injury Oct. 14 against Carolina, there’s not a chance he will start Thursday against the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Place.
With the Senators coming off a 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday, with Brian Elliott playing a pivotal role by making 33 stops, coach Cory Clouston won’t make a change.
“We’re not going to say who is going to start, but there’s no need to change things right now,” said Clouston. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Brian has played well.
“He has given our guys an opportunity to get our feet back underneath us when we have struggled at times in a game — whether it’s the third period or off the start. He has been there for us. And, he’s been a real big part of how we’ve started to turn things around.”
The Senators have won four of their last six games with Elliott in the net. He will make his ninth straight start since Leclaire got hurt. Elliott can’t be blamed for the losses the club has suffered.
Troubled by a lack of goal scoring, the Senators can’t afford to have any inconsistency in net. Elliott was at his best in the third period Tuesday when he made 16 stops with the Leafs pushing hard to get back into the game. He is feeling good about his game.
“The whole year I’ve felt pretty good about the way I was playing,” said Elliott. “Every time you get in there, you just want to be a little more confident. That goes (the same) for everybody on the team.
“When that happens, guys see it and feel it in themselves and kind of get on a roll. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Elliott said he’s not sure what playing every night does for his confidence.
“That’s a tough question,” said Elliott. “Every time you get in there, you want to play your best. You have that many opportunities, and you get wins, then you’re obviously going to feel good about yourself.
“(That gives) you more confidence. Getting wins is what keeps you in there. That’s the goal.”
Injuries aren’t supposed to cost players their jobs, but Leclaire has put himself in a difficult position. The Senators are playing better now with a little more consistency and he’s been the odd man out.
Sure, Leclaire, who has a 0-2-1 record with a 3.24 GAA, was brought in to be the No. 1 goalie, but he’s going to have to wait to see if Elliott falters. Clouston was noncommittal about the idea of getting Leclaire some playing time.
This is exactly what happened to Leclaire last year. He suffered a concussion in New York in early January and was never able to grab his No. 1 status back until Game 5 of the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We’re going to play it by ear,” said Clouston. “Brian has proven he can help us win games.
“He played very well (in Toronto) and he’s played very well since he’s come in. He looked very comfortable (against the Leafs), confident and when we needed him in the third period he was really solid for us.”