It’s about those unfamiliar sounds Wednesday at the house previously known as Scotia-blank Place.
The fans boo Cory Clouston for making a mid-game goalie change? Usually when a coach yanks his ’tender, he’s applauded.
Then they give it to Brian Elliott when he’s announced as Robin Lehner’s replacement? Must have had something to do with that 11-game losing streak Elliott is slip-sliding down — and the sickening feeling that Elliott was going to give up a soft one to Johan Franzen in the third.
The oddest noise of all, meanwhile, was all the cheering.
For goals by the home team, even. What’s with that?
In losing their previous seven home games, the Senators had scored a grand total of eight. You were going to be reading on this page about how a new franchise record was going to be set this season for fewest goals scored in a full, regulation size season. The current mark of 191 was established in 1995-96, the year after the lockout. The current edition entered Game 52 against the Detroit Red Wings with 109 — meaning they would have to average 2.73 goals per game to avoid distinction as the most offensively inept group in team history.
Surely, they were going to claim that title ... until guys such as Alex Kovalev, Peter Regin, Milan Michalek and Chris Campoli started lighting it up.
“We can’t rely on one or two guys,” Clouston told the players in a morning meeting. “I don’t care if you’re a first-year, second-year player, or a 15, 17-year veteran. We need everybody to take responsibility in the offensive zone. Do whatever it takes to get to the net. Just put pucks and bodies to the net.”
That they did.
“So much of it is mental right now, so much of it is,” Clouston said of a losing skid in which the Sens have lost 14 of 15.
“To me, our biggest hurdle right now is 90% mental.”
Still, with five goals against the Wings, hope does exist.
Like, if they can just clear that hurdle 110% of the time, the Senators could still make the playoffs.
PRAISE THE RICHARDSONS
Local hockey writers will soon have to nominate one of the Senators for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which goes to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
Couple of the boys were mulling who that might be the other day, when one suggested a good choice would be assistant coach Luke Richardson. And it absolutely would be, if only for the perseverance part alone.
The nominee is supposed to be a player, but who could argue if we put forth Richardson’s name. Luke and wife Stephanie continue to show unbelievable courage in moving forward after the suicide of their 14-year-old daughter Daron in November. On Wednesday, the Richardsons further raised awareness about teenage mental illness by donating $100,000 to a newly launched campaign called the Daron Richardson Fund. Watch for and participate in Do It For Daron Day on Feb. 8, which would have been her 15th birthday.
LUNCH WITH ROBIN
Okay, you got me. I don’t know what he had. Maybe we didn’t actually dine together. But I was part of a scrum that chatted with Senators goalie Robin Lehner at lunchTIME Wednesday. Some things he mentioned such as ...
Playing in the NHL as a 19-year-old: “I’m just really happy for this organization giving me the chances they are, especially giving me the help. They help me a lot with everything. How to prepare mentally. They really stand behind me.
On playing his first game in front of an NHL crowd in excess of the small groups who witnessed his first two games, on Long Island and in New Jersey: “It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be a lot of pressure. But in my mind, when I’m out there, I don’t see any fans anyway. I’m just going to try to go into my bubble, and see the puck.”
THINGS I THINK I THINK
Penalty calls on Chris Campoli and Chris Phillips that put the Senators two men short in third period were weak ... For all they did offensively, Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev both turned the puck over in the neutral zone with Brian Elliott on the bench for an extra attacker ... Clouston sounded a little like Yogi Berra when asked hours before the game if going with Robin Lehner in net was a tough call. “I don’t say it was an easy decision, but it was a fairly simple decision.” ... There was no pouting from Lehner when he was pulled.
When the Senators scored 29 seconds after he left the game, Lehner was on his feet pounding the glass ... How bad was January for the Senators? Chris Kelly was the team’s Molson Cup three star award winner for scoring three goals and one assist ... Don’t look now, but Brian Lee is turning into a capable NHL D-man. He may be a bargain next season at the $875,000 salary he’ll make on the contract the Sens were ridiculed for signing him to ... Come on, the ref said he “meant” to blow his whistle on the play that wiped out a Chris Neil goal. Ridiculous.
“I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know. And I don’t know if we know what specifically they would do surgery on, to be honest.” — Senators coach Cory Clouston, when asked if goalie Pascal Leclaire may require surgery on a “lower body” injury that has sidelined him for the past 18 games.
Clouston also said he didn’t know if Leclaire could be done for the season.
“As of now, he’s not in the near horizon, he’s not anywhere near being ready to play right now.”