Senators coach has got to go

Senators bench boss Cory Clouston at the end of the team's 5-3 loss against the Rangers in Ottawa...

Senators bench boss Cory Clouston at the end of the team's 5-3 loss against the Rangers in Ottawa on December 9, 2010. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:27 AM ET

Where does Cory Clouston get off messing with karma? What the hell was he thinking?

The Senators lost six straight games with Brian Elliott as their goalie. Robin Lehner goes in Thursday, and they win.

So what does Clouston do for Friday? Goes back to Elliott, which also winds up meaning the Senators go back to being losers. Pin this defeat on the coach.

“Would have been (Lehner’s) fourth game in six nights,” Clouston said Friday morning when asked for an explanation. “Back to back (games). He played well (against the Islanders), but there’s still definitely some areas he needs to tighten up on ... but it was a real good first start.”

Sorry, that’s not good enough.

You don’t screw with a winning formula when you so desperately need a victory. Especially in goal, especially when it’s someone as inconsistent as Elliott you’re rushing back to.

Clouston was asked if he wasn’t worried about spitting in the eye of fate — or something to that effect.

“I’m more worried about making sure (Lehner) has success,” he said. “There’s some areas, if you analyze his game ... we only gave up seven scoring chances. It was a real good game for him to get into, where we scored six goals and gave him a big cushion. Like I said, it would be his fourth game in six nights. There’s been some travel from the world championships back to Binghamton. He’s not the most rested guy, either.”

Weren’t the world juniors in Buffalo? Isn’t that only an hour or two down the road from Bingo? It’s not like Lehner had to deal with a time difference or jet lag. And for gawdsakes, the kid is 19 years old.

Why didn’t Clouston give Erik Karlsson Friday’s game off, too? He played a team-high 27:17 Thursday night. And he did a lot more skating than Lehner, or anyone else for that matter. Surely he was exhausted.

“Not even close to getting tired,” the 20-year-old Karlsson said when asked the question Friday morning. “I’m in good shape.”

But if you play against the Flames, it will be your fourth game in seven days.

“I feel great,” said Karlsson. “Better than ever. I don’t think anyone in here is having any condition problems at all. I think everyone is in really good shape. You can feel the energy is up. We can go on for a while.”

Okay, well, let’s wake up Lehner from his mid-morning nap to see how he’s doing.

Tired, Robin?

“No, no,” he said. “It’s too fun right now to be tired.”

Mentally exhausted? You’ve played a lot lately. And then there was that long drive from Buffalo to Bingo?

“No. I don’t feel tired mentally,” he said. “Absolutely not.”

Lehner did not have an especially great game Thursday. He stopped 20-of-24 shots. But he won.

“Even though I had a little shaky game, I was still comfortable. I didn’t feel out of place.”

Clouston said Lehner will get another shot soon. Elliott, who has now lost seven in a row, looked pretty bad on the winning goal.

Elliott looks like he’s due for another rest. Lehner might not be able to beat Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals Sunday afternoon in Washington, but maybe he can. He’s 1-0 in NHL starts. It’s better than being the loser of seven straight. That he wasn’t put on that road, that he wasn’t thrown back into the fight, against the Flames was just wrong.

Whatever the reason, the Senators scored six goals for Lehner. They haven’t done that for another goalie of theirs this season.

The Senators have let their coach down with poor play this season many times this season. On Friday, he let them down with a decision that cost them the game.

A goaltending decision like this should be enough to cause a coach who is already on thin ice to fall through.

Starts and stops

Of Daniel Alfredsson’s team-leading 14 goals this season, Thursday’s in Long Island was the sweetest. “It felt pretty good,” Alfredsson said of his marker at the 32-second mark. “I got it in my feet and it just happened. I saw the guy’s stick, and I put it under his stick.” ... The Senators didn’t have a book on Calgary goalie Henrik Karlsson, who was playing the 10th game of his career. “Not much at all,” Alfredsson said when asked what he knew about his fellow Swede. “Just read about him. Doesn’t change the game plan, though.” What we know is this: The Senators’ game plan works a lot better against skaky Islanders goalies than a decent Calgary ’tender.

Birds of a feather

Matt Carkner and Corey Locke share common ground, which they discussed as the Senators were flying home from Long Island Thursday night. Carkner played 524 games in the minors before becoming a full-time NHLer, while Locke played 504 AHL games before recording his first point in the world’s best league. “We talked about how many AHL games we had, he’s not quite as far along as I was,” Carkner said. “But I’m like, it’s impressive you stuck with it that long. He’s trying to reach his goals. Thursday night he had a good game for us. I’m pretty proud for him.” Locke had to feel like he was still on a cloud after helping snap the losing streak of a team that resides in the same city he starred in as a junior (an aside: No player has scored 150 points in the OHL since Locke had 151 for the 67’s in 2002-03. And there’s been some pretty good ones — Steve Stamkos, John Tavares, Rob Schremp — who have tried). Locke didn’t get the puck as a souvenir after getting his first NHL point, an assist, but you can be sure he would have grabbed it had it been offered. “It’s like scoring a goal, I guess,” said Locke. “I’m an offensive-minded player, but I’m a playmaker, and getting assists is great. Scoring a goal is awesome too, but being able to get an assist in first game called up is something special.”

C'est what?

“Hey. I saw your name on the roof yesterday ... but I didn’t see you.” — All-star D Erik Karlsson to Sportsnet analyst Denis Potvin, the morning after the Senators played in Nassau Coliseum. Potvin’s jersey, of course, was retired by the Islanders.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos