Sens righting what's wrong?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:42 PM ET

NASHVILLE — Coach Cory Clouston isn’t worried about hurting feelings these days.

So while Ryan Shannon will get a big promotion to line up on Jason Spezza’s right side Thursday, Alex Kovalev will skate on the fourth unit — with Jesse Winchester and Peter Regin.

Clouston wants to give Shannon a chance as the Senators play their final pre-Christmas game — against the Predators.

“He’s working hard. He’s been very good on the forecheck and his ice time hasn’t been a lot,” said Clouston. “He’s averaging (8:53 a game) and he’s still managing to produce offensively, so he deserves an opportunity to play more minutes.”

Kovalev was banished to the fourth line Dec. 9 against the New York Rangers. He complained about being “picked on” and returned to the top line the next night in a 3-2 win over the Devils.

Since then, Kovalev hasn’t been a factor with two assists in five games.

In the final year of his contract, there is plenty of heat on Clouston to get this team out of its funk.

Will Shannon, 27, be the answer?

“Nothing changes within my game,” said Shannon, who has four goals and five assists in 32 games. “I’ve got to work hard, create turnovers, use my speed and complement the play of the other two guys.

“It’s a great chance. Things aren’t working out too well. We need to throw together some wins and get some points. Hopefully, I can help do that.”

This isn’t the first time Shannon has played on a top line, so he’s not going to be feeling any extra pressure.

“I learned pretty early on when I played with some good players earlier in my career that if you’re just looking to give them the puck, it’s not going to work out,” said Shannon. “You have to be confident in your game and play hard. That’s what I’m looking to do.”

AROUND THE BOARDS:

Senators G Pascal Leclaire didn’t make the trip to Nashville, but he should be ready to return, and maybe start, Boxing Day against the Penguins. Struggling with a “lower-body” injury, Leclaire is expected to skate Thursday in Ottawa. G Mike Brodeur is scheduled to join the team in Nashville to dress as the backup to Brian Elliott ... G Robin Lehner, who suffered a cut to his leg in an exhibition game with Team Sweden Tuesday in Toronto, should be OK for the rest of the world junior tournament. Lehner left a 4-2 loss to Team Canada after the second period when a skate slashed his leg.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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