Saturday, November 20, 2010

Elliott Should Start Looking Over His Shoulder

After another tough loss on the road, this time to the St.Louis Blues, it seems like a perfect time for the team to be idle and have a weekend off before starting another tough stretch where they will play four games in six days but at least three of them are at home.

Essentially, the Senators have to hit the reset button here. They got clobbered on the road this week and now find themselves under .500 again and out of a playoff position in the top 8. Yet, if they are the same sort of streaky team they were last season, they have a chance to get back into form with a couple of home wins, starting Monday against the Kings.

The goaltending has crashed and burned, with Brian Elliott playing so poorly of late that it begs the question: Does Pascal Leclaire get a chance to start an important game soon?

I'd bet that Elliott gets some more rope by Cory Clouston, because, let's face it, Elliott is Clouston's guy. 

It's just a hunch, but I'm guessing Clouston learned to trust Elliott in Bingo when the two were there together and he's just more comfortable with him. They both have the same demeanour, whereas Leclaire is loose and doesn't seem to get too uptight after bad performances (although his stick swinging tantrum in practice last week was rare moment of intensity). You got the sense that Leclaire started this season as the top guy because Bryan Murray and the rest of management expected it (or, dare we say, demanded it). That's purely speculation but it's likely close to the truth.

I wrote just last week that Leclaire is bound to get another shot, even though Elliott at the time was held in semi-deity status during his hot streak. And for a while, he was worth the hype. He was a rock. But Elliott has the tendency to go through real rough patches and he seems to be in one now. If Clouston allows it, Leclaire could have a chance to get that number one spot back if he steps up and plays lights out whenever, or if, he gets that opportunity.

It's interesting to wonder what this team would look like if Leclaire hadn't hurt himself early into the season. People were saying he was the Senators best player, but when the groin popped, some were saying his career was toast because he couldn't be trusted to stay healthy.

That's still the case. But when it comes to goalies, always expect the unexpected. Especially in Ottawa.

Something to watch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think there are any surprises here. Instead of looking at the last twenty games, look at the last 250 games.

Based on that analysis, you can predict the next 60 games.

There will be some nice highs, followed by some real lows, followed by some more highs, etc ...

All the highs and the lows will cancel each other out, and we'll have a team that's a few games over .500 and in the mix for a low playoff seed. Just like the past three seasons.

I'll even throw in another prediction. The goaltending will, at times, be great. Then, at other times, it'll be bad. In the end, it'll average out to a tandem that has a SV% hovering around .900. That puts us in the bottom half of the league. That's all from looking at the historical data of the last 250 games.

That's partly why Volchenkov's blocked shots were important. He saved goals.

The part that worries me, is that the team might make a trade in an effort to turn things around. We would be trading from a position of weakness. On top of that, I don't think that adding or subtracting a player addresses the main issues.

If your leg is hurting, and you go to the doctor and ask him to look at your arm, your leg will still be hurting.

This team has some nice pieces. None of these pieces are playing to their potential. None.

Unless we acquire a player that can magically lift everyone's spirits, and inspire them to new heights, I don't see anything changing.

Is the current group of players capable of much better? Absolutely. It's a good group.

I'm starting to feel a kinship with Flames fans. I think that we have similar problems and similar solutions.