Senators healing together

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:53 PM ET

Rattled by tragedy as they were, the Senators were not themselves last week.

They hope to get back to normal starting Monday at Scotiabank Place against the Kings.

It’s the first of two in a row and 6-of-7 at home for the Senators, who with their wives and families are still recovering from the devastating, horrible news that Daron Richardson, the 14-year-old daughter of assistant coach Luke Richardson, had taken her own life.

The Senators’ knee-jerk reaction was to play what Chris Kelly calls their best game of the season, a 2-0 win in Boston. When reality sunk in and their hearts became heavy with grief, they responded with three of their worst — losses by a combined count of 17-4 in Philadelphia, Carolina and St. Louis.

“I think the shock of it all may be gone, but the feelings are still there,” Jason Spezza said after Sunday’s practice. “But we have to move on, as a team, on the ice.

“It’s been an emotional time. Anybody that’s played with Lukey knows that the family has been so close to the team. It’s been hard on our wives. The ladies behind the scenes are sometimes lost in the shuffle. When something traumatic and devastating like that happens, they take it really hard too. 

“It’s been hard on everyone. You’re trying to separate hockey and life, and you realize you can’t sometimes. It was pretty hard, for a few days there, to really think about the game. There were a lot bigger things going on.

“It’s been tough juggling home and the rink.”

Trying to find the way out of the fog, coach Cory Clouston has done some juggling of his own. Line combinations for Monday’s game will be completely different, as no one unit will go unaffected.

Kelly has moved to left wing, alongside Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Peter Regin has been shifted back to centre, where he’ll work between Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev.

Mike Fisher is in the middle of Nick Foligno and Ryan Shannon, while Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Neil are on either side of Jesse Winchester.

“We’ve got to start creating some offence,” said Clouston. “But we also have to be responsible defensively.”

It should not surprise anyone if Pascal Leclaire replaces Brian Elliott between the pipes, either. Elliott, who has started 15 of the last 16 games, has given up nine goals in his last four periods of work and 14 in his last seven.

“We have to support them better, but a little more consistency is what we need,” Clouston said of his goalies. “There’s been times when they’ve been by far our best players, and times they’ve struggled. 

“When they have played well, we’ve won a lot of games. Brian, and or Pascal, has to get back in that rhythm, but we have to help them get into that rhythm. We can’t give up the turnovers we’ve had. We have to score more than one or two goals to win a game.

“The last four or five games couldn’t have been a lot of fun for our goaltenders, knowing if they give up more than two goals we’re probably going to lose. We have to generate some more offence, which will relieve some pressure from our goalies.”

While stating he works hard to get better every day, Elliott noted that “sometimes there’s goals you can’t do anything about” like those that deflect off skates or the stick of a defenceman.

Asked if he notices anything different about his play of late, he replied:

“I’m a goalie. I don’t know, you play different every game. You want to be as consistent as possible. You feel good in there, you feel like you’re doing your job sometimes (and) you let seven goals in, and sometimes you let nothing in. It’s a funny game.”

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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