All Senators coach Cory Clouston wants for Christmas is somebody who can stop a puck.
Well, he needs a lot more, of course, but that would be a good start.
Maybe Brian Elliott wasn’t the primary culprit Sunday night. At times, he was decent. But Elliott also didn’t make the saves a team needs when the tide is turning, either. And heading into the game against the desperate Washington Capitals, Ottawa’s goaltending situation was dire.
Pascal Leclaire couldn’t play because he was injured, again, and Elliott just couldn’t play. Forgot how, it seemed.
“Generally it starts with him just getting smaller and deeper in the crease,” Clouston said earlier in the day, when asked where Elliott’s problems have stemmed.
“To me it all starts with getting in position at the top of his crease and everything else will follow.”
By now you can guess Leclaire’s final four months as a Senator will be hit and miss. Can he play? Not today.
How about Robin Lehner? Would they consider straying from the plan and call their prospect up from Binghamton before he finishes his first full season as a pro. They should. Tom Barrasso was pretty good for the Buffalo Sabres as a teenager, wasn’t he? Damn right he was.
“It’s not out of the possibility,” said Clouston. “He’s had his ups and downs in Bingo as well. It’s important he gets his game feeling good, if and when he does come up. If that ever happens. We don’t need him up if he’s not playing at the top of his game.”
How about Mike Brodeur? Fresh off a shutout in the East Coast League Saturday, he was Elliott’s back up against the Caps. Brodeur has helped turn this ship around before, hasn’t he?
“Possibly,” Clouston said when asked if Brodeur might get a chance. “He’s only played two games all year. He played one at the start of the year. I think he won that game. Gave up one goal, got a concussion, and he’s just back now. He’s had a few setbacks.
“He’s the same thing. We need to get him on track, so if and when we do need him ... but we don’t foresee that. We still have confidence in our guys.”
And if not? Well, Jason Spezza does sit atop the team’s salary chart. And he was overheard Sunday morning answering questions about his best Christmas gift as a youngster ... was sure we heard him say something about a net.
“I never wanted to be a goalie,” Spezza explained. “I played one game in goal, Port Credit Paperweight ... I think they call it Timbits now. That’s when you rotate, every kid has to play goal. I got a shutout, I had no shots and I thought it was the most boring position ever. I told my dad I never want to play goal again.”
- The Senators started to become unglued when Sergei Gonchar mishandled the puck in the offensive zone, with really nobody around him. The odd-man rush his fumble led to became the first of three unanswered goals by the visitors. Tough one for Gonchar, as he had just worked his way down to a minus-18 in the first ... What leaves a worse taste in your mouth than egg nog gone bad? How about the fact the Senators are paying the defensive pairing of Gonchar and Filip Kuba almost $10 million?
Gabby tell us what you think
Washington’s Bruce “Gabby” Boudreau remains one of the most quotable coaches in the NHL, even when he’s keeping it clean.
On which goalie he planned to start against the Senators, when asked eight hours before game time: “I haven’t flipped the coin yet.”
On the 26-2 margin his team outshot the Bruins in the third period Saturday: “I’ve never been involved in a game like that. To come away with one goal ... You guys have seen Tim Thomas. He’s got the ability to stand on his head, and he did.”
On the secret to shaking a losing streak: “It hasn’t changed in the 60 years that I’ve been watching this stupid game. We can talk about traps and all these other things, and systems and blah-blah-blah, but in the end four or five things are consistently constant with hockey, and when you’re successful you’re doing them right, and when you’re not successful you’re not doing them right.”
On Alex Ovechkin, who entered the night without a goal in five games, and just two in his past 16 and 12 on the season so far: “Right now he’s struggling in the goal department, but not the effort department or the leadership department, and I would still bet money that he’s going to get 50 goals.”
Patrick Shannon heads home to Connecticut with his son on a two-game point streak, as Ryan gave the Senators the early lead. Having his dad around meant a lot. “I don’t get to see him very often,” said Ryan. “We talk on the phone, but it’s not the same. If you’re struggling a little bit, and you’re second-guessing yourself, having someone that’s kind of been there ... your father, the one that was there every step of the way, can kind of ground you a little bit. Gives you a sense of security. Can give you a little more confidence.” The Senators were 1-1-1 with the fathers on the trip.
Best non-hockey related Christmas gift you received as a kid?
“KerPlunk,” said Chris Kelly. “I was probably like 10. It was a pleasant surprise.”
Did you become a good KerPlunk player?
“It’s one of those things,” said Kelly, “you’ve just got it or you don’t.”