February 6, 2012
Auld or Anderson vs. Blues?
By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - Will it be Alex Auld or Craig Anderson?
While all eyes will be on former Senator Brian Elliott as the exiled goalie returns to Ottawa — all-star game aside — for the first time with the Blues on Tuesday, it’s a mystery who’ll make the start for the Senators after coach Paul MacLean wouldn’t name a starter on Monday.
Coming off a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place and trying to end a six-game losing skid, MacLean was wrestling with who to give the nod to.
“No, I don’t (know),” MacLean said. “I’m going to sleep on it again.”
Since MacLean told reporters there was no plan to bring up Robin Lehner from Binghamton and give him the start, it’s either going to be Anderson for 18th straight game or Auld for the first time since Dec. 30 against Calgary.
Anderson will likely start, but Auld is being considered.
“We do that every game,” said MacLean. “We talk about it, we discuss it. We’ll do the same thing (Monday and Tuesday).”
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has no hesitation going with Elliott, who is 15-5-2, with a 1.69 GAA and has been rock-solid as Jaroslav Halak’s backup.
“We coach people that play hockey. We just don’t coach hockey,” Hitchcock said after practice Monday in Ottawa. “It’s easy for me because both guys are playing well. If one guy was playing lights out, it would be a little bit different.
“I also think that in 82 games, there’s always one or two games ... For me (in Dallas), it was going back to Chicago with Eddie (Belfour). You feel like you are a little bit obligated unless the guy is just flat not playing well. I just feel like I’m obligated the same way I was with (Halak last month in Montreal).”
Elliott hasn’t played a regular-season game here since a 4-3 shootout loss to the Islanders on Feb. 16, 2011. In that game, he gave up an ugly goal to Michael Grabner in the third period while caught out of the net.
Elliott raised eyebrows when he blamed slippery ice for being scored on. He was dealt to Colorado for Anderson two days later.
Elliott, who signed with the Blues in the off-season as a free agent, got some advice from Halak.
“He just said to play my game and have fun,” said Elliott. “It’s different playing against buddies on the other side, but when the puck drops they all say the same thing, the alliances drop pretty quick.”
Elliott added he never paid attention to his critics.
“I never read or watched anything on TV. We were struggling. A lot of guys got traded away, just like I did. We knew changes were coming,” said Elliott.
The Senators are looking forward to seeing Elliott.
“Everybody was tough on him,” said centre Jason Spezza. “There was a lot blaming specifically on one guy and it’s never really one guy’s fault. He bit of a rough ride (from the media) and the fans got on him a little bit.
“We’re in it as a team. He was a teammate of ours. You never like to see that as a player. We all could have been playing better at the time. It’s great to see him doing well. We hope that we can beat him (Tuesday) night.”
The Leafs beat the Oilers 6-3 on Monday to knock the Senators into eight place in the East ... C Jesse Winchester, who has been out with a concussion since Dec. 20, wasn’t on the ice Monday after practising with the Senators last week. MacLean said he believed Winchester suffered a “setback” in his recovery.