Sens tell Kuba to sit

Sens coach Cory Clouston has decided to shake up his team by making healthy scratches of defenceman...

Sens coach Cory Clouston has decided to shake up his team by making healthy scratches of defenceman Filip Kuba and winger Jarkko Ruutu tonight. (QMI Agency file photo)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:22 PM ET

COLUMBUS - The Senators will have $5 million in the press box when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena Friday night.

That's aside from the $12.8 million worth of salaries back in Ottawa with the injuries to Jason Spezza and Pascal Leclaire.

Coach Cory Clouston has decided to shake up his team by making healthy scratches of defenceman Filip Kuba ($3.7 million) and winger Jarkko Ruutu ($1.3 million) for the New Year's Eve tilt against the Jackets, who are coming off a win over the Leafs in Toronto.

Both veterans have disappointed this season, as Kuba has no goals, four assists and a minus-10 rating in 22 games while Ruutu has just two goals and six assists in 38 games.

They will be replaced by a couple of Minnesota natives who the Senators have made first round picks: defenceman Brian Lee and forward Jim O"Brien, who was recalled from Binghamton Thursday night.

"It's a situation where we are actually able to do that ..with Spezza out of the lineup and possibly going on long term we have cap room if we need it," Clouston said after Friday's morning skate. "Both players are struggling, maybe for different reasons. And we need some energy in the lineup, guys who are going to come in, keep it simple and play well."

O'Brien, who has made a remarkable turnaround to his career with the help of a strong, off-season conditioning program, is fourth in team scoring with Binghamton. He has 12 goals and 13 assists in 33 games this season.

"It's is really exciting, just a great feeling," said the 21-year old O'Brien, who will be laying his first NHL game on a line with Jesse Winchester and Zack Smith. "I just want to go out there and play as good as I can, play hard, and help the team get a win."

Ruutu took his benching in stride.

"The coach makes the decision and you have to live with it," he said. "When the team is losing you have to try something. "Obviously I haven't played as well as I've wanted. I haven't been scoring as much as I want. All you can do is work hard and look ahead."

Brian Elliott will start in goal for the Senators while Steve Mason plays his second game between the pipes in as many nights for the Blue Jackets.


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