Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Clouston Makes Right Choice


After making 41 saves tonight, many of them spectacular, Alex Auld made coach Cory Clouston look like a savvy veteran decision maker as the Senators came out with a convincing win against the playoff desperate Hurricanes.

While it might have seemed like a no-brainer to start Auld over the struggling rookie Brian Elliott, the politics of the situation probably made that decision a little harder than usual.

Elliott is essentially in an extended audition for the starters role next season and the Senators are all but technically eliminated from the playoffs. After having been pulled multiple times in recent games, Elliott was publicly challenged by Clouston to get more mentally prepared and it wouldn't have been surprising if the coach gave Elliott a chance to prove himself right away.

Instead, Clouston made the right choice to go with Auld.

After all, Elliott is here to learn and ease his way into the NHL, not to put a team on his shoulders and bulldoze his way to the playoffs. By forcing the young netminder into the spotlight, there is a chance that Clouston could needlessly destroy his confidence while earning the team very little in the long run.

Elliott will get his share of games down the stretch but if Auld is getting hot, Clouston would be wise to stick with him until he shows signs of faltering. Even if Elliott was to play every game left on the schedule, it may not be enough to convince Murray that he doesn't need to go out and get a goalie like Nicklas Backstrom or Manny Fernandez this summer.

What's more important is getting the winning culture back in that dressing room and hopefully see that carry over into next season. It looks like they are on their way.

There are a lot of young players on this Senators team that are blossoming under Clouston, including Nick Foligno, Ryan Shannon and Brian Lee. It's not surprising that it will take a little longer for Elliott who's playing the toughest position in hockey.

For now, the organization and the fans will just have to be patient while he learns the ropes and part of that is sitting down when your backup is playing better than you.

***

With Bryan Murray carrying about 3 defenseman too many, there has been some whispers that either Brendan Bell or Brian Lee will find themselves in Bingo because of their two-way contracts. But if you've been watching the past two weeks, there is no way in hell that Brian Lee is going anywhere.

This guy impresses me more every game. He can skate the puck out of the zone smooth as silk and always seems to be moving his feet with a purpose. Occasionally he makes a bad decision in his own end but he'll get better at that. If he could start getting more shots through from the point, he really reminds me of a young Wade Redden circa 1997.

Does this make Alex Picard trade-bait? He's played one game under Clouston and was quickly shuttled back out of the lineup. And if someone gets injured, I'd guess Clouston goes with Bell instead of Picard. That doesn't bode well for his future here. I highly doubt he's one of the players that Murray threatened to put on waivers but he could easily become a throw-in on another deal. The acquisition of Chris Campoli makes Picard a ghost.

***

Mike Comrie just brings a bit of that swagger back doesn't he? That goal he scored at the end of the first period was an absolute beauty.....By choosing to wear number 14 with the Senators, Chris Campoli is following in the footsteps of Brad Marsh, Jean-Yves Roy, Dave Hannan, Radek Bonk and Andrej Meszaros. Mike Comrie is the only player in the history of the Senators to wear 89. In fact, only one other player has worn a number in the 80's and that was Martin Straka who wore number 82.....It was interesting to see Jason Smith waving an apology to Hurricane goalie Michael Leighton after putting the puck in the net after the whistle in the second period. Classy. It's surprised me that Smith' s name hasn't been added to the rumour mill with trade deadline coming up. He's a guy who is custom built for the playoffs but with the Red Wings being the current champions, players of Smith's ilk are not in style right now but players like Campoli are. I think Murray should keep Smith around anyways. If the Senators can get into the playoffs next year, he'll be an impact player. Does anyone remember Smith getting stitches in the hallway off the bench while he was with the Oilers in the late-90's during a playoff game? The guy refused to go to the room and missed one shift. I wish I could find the video on that....

Joe Corvo was roundly booed every time he touched the puck - and that was often. Say what you want about Corvo, but it was a good career move for him to get sent to Carolina. He runs the whole teams offense from back there and it's easy to forget just how good a skater he really is. The similarities to Paul Coffey don't just end with his number 77. He doesn't have the hands (or the heart) that Coffey had though....

For a team that has recently won the Stanley Cup, the Hurricanes don't seem to have any aura whatsoever about them. Maybe it's because they won without any real superstars (with apologies to Eric Staal). At least when Tampa won, they had the Big 3 and you can still sense that the organization has won something.

But I'm guessing the Senators would trade their modest success for the Canes Stanley Cup banner any day.

27 comments:

mickey said...

Good point on smith. When people talk about trading players like smith or donovan they are forgetting just how well these guys play in the postseason. Donovan was simply amazing in calgary's run to the playoffs and was very good in the first round loss to the pens when others weren't. The players that contributed to the kind of playoff runs that the oilers and flames had are the ones you want to hold on to. Smith was also very dependable for the flyers last year. Neil belongs in the same category. Anyone remember that huge goal against the ducks in the finals?
I'm not proposing that we ignore the glaring lack of skill on the blueline. But because many are suggesting that neil will be dealt we need to keep in mind that grit, toughness and team defence still wins championships. Surprisingly, the team has made alot of progress in this regard- this has alot to do with that type of player, which the sens have in abundance.

Andrew said...

Picard's been a ghost all season. Lee's been playing well but he looks afraid to shoot the puck alot of the time. In the Vancouver game last week he got big PP minutes but even with time and space he looked like shooting was last thing on his mind.

Canucnik said...

Brian Elliott should be in Bingo playing for the "Calder" right now.
That experiment to play him behind our then defence was a complete "Fuck UP" and he gets nothing but gimmies and losers to finish the season. Stop talking about it. You don't know what you are talking about.


#21 Jason (Gator) Smith was the toughest cowboy out west 5 years ago. He was done in Philly last year, you guys were the only ones not to notice. We have him again next year at two and half plus, no one wants him, he cannot play that new system. I think he was one of the principle reasons for failure this year, causing coaches to shield him, hurting our young defenders instead of helping them early on, it was tough to watch you guys didn't even see it let alone acknowledge it.

Alexandre Picard shall prosper with Campoli to become the best 5-6 pair in the league.

PROBLEM ONE: The Ottawa Senators need a NUMBER ONE DEFENCEMAN! STOP! (30).

Anonymous said...

Smith had a great game last night. A lot of Canes were told to take a seat when they crossed the blueline. In fact, he has been playing alot better under Clouston. Hmm ...

Canucnik said...

1:21PM

You must be the 3rd persona of the "CS" group better known as the "BHCF" or #2's alter ego.

I sometimes wonder about guys like you, maybe I'm at the game and your watching on TV or vis versa.

It has become so bad with #21 he plays with Alf as much as possible. #11 is stationed on the boards not 12' away for the out let pass from Jason. Early on he used this out effectively, then inexplicably he looks him off, tries to go deeper and gets into the same old trouble turning the puck over.

Officially charged with one give away last night, I counted 3 "Beauts" in one shift.

Finally a year too late,"They" know they have a problem. On Campoli's fluff, Smith lost 35' in a 90' race and Campoli almost caught Staal from standing still turned the wrong way.

You have to be paid a lot of money before this number of "OWN" goals and "First" goals are over looked!

So to "BHCF" ya goota start watchin' the same games as us!

PROBLEM ONE! The Ottawa Senators need a NUMBER ONE DEFENCEMAN!STOP! (30).

mickey said...

Take a deep breath buddy...

Canucnik said...

Mickey:

Is #21 on your team next year at 2.6 in the 5 hole?

mickey said...

Whether your right or not doesnt bother me, I just think u need to ease up with the page long rants that tend to lose more and more focus as they go. I think Smith can fill a need on this team, maybe not next year but he was forced to play beyond his capacity this year and i think that hurt him. With limited minutes I think he could be more effective. Like me, many hockey people- not just the media and the overzealous fan base, think that he is an effective player. Remember, we are talking about a 6th defenceman here. The fact is, he has played better than Picard, so he is a pretty decent option in that regard.

Jason said...

Canucnik, seriously, get a fucking life and leave me alone.

Canucnik said...

Mickey:

I respect your response and opinion. I respectfully disagree!

I try to finish my discussion with a climax but clearly that is lost on you.

A poor team on a bad run tries to cover mistakes not solve them.

The writers and broadcasters are such sheep in Ottawa, they only criticise the defenceless younger players and never a "Sacred Cow" like #21.

Smith's best defencive move is an infraction and if we ever make the play offs (next year) he will be called all knight for it.

Canucnik said...

Jason:

What's your last name and why are you wearing blue?

Anonymous said...

Don't know where you get that Smith is a liability by taking too many penalties. Currently he's ranked 6 on the team in PIM. Subtract 16 minutes in the garbage call in the Buffalo game, and he's in the bottom half of the team. Just saying you don't like him will suffice...

Canucnik said...

10;22PM.

"The Vets get a pass from the older refs!

Little known fact! To you anyways.

Lets go back six games and come forward through three. I counted five hand off the stick forarm shiver type infractions not called two to Philips and three on Jason 21.

The best example, the Montreal game, there are three grevious fouls committed by these guys (#21 with 2)in one shift. As the period ends, the Sens recieved three fantome make up calls and the faithfull go ballistic.

Because the fix is in for the Habs it has scued the officiating for the whole Conference but there is no excuse for this. I recall an infraction by old 21 that was so dirty that it left Dean Brown speechless... Now that's tough to do.

The NHL STATS are a joke!

Post Script for Jason: How do you think Bell feels when he's walking the plank before three defencemen that aren't as good as him. Give him a break.

Anonymous said...

His playoff stats don't bear him out to be a liability either. So is he going to be a liability, or will the refs give him a pass? Make up your mind. Occasionally stats are useless, but not as much as your random rhetoric.

Canucnik said...

To Random Rhetoric:

Watch the game you jerk!

When Jason Smith was the big western cowboy he could hit you clean off either shoulder one of about three in the league that could do that. Could clear the front of the net without cross checking you! That stong!

The problem "random" is that, that hockey player didn't come east. The reaction of the Philly bench when they saw what they got. The expressions of disbelief on the faces of our younger players as they watched a 15 year pro make mistakes a pee wee wouldn't make.

So pay attention from now on there is nothing random here, it is constant, recurring, game in game out stuff!

Anonymous said...

Well, that's a reasonable response to someone that's proven you wrong...

So, liability or pass?

Here's a 'Little known fact! To you anyways.' Refs put the whistle away in the playoffs, and most can get away with these so-called 'infractions.'

Canucnik said...

Random:

I knew you would be too stupid to do the math. See there are the Edmonton stats which were very good and the post Edmonton stats that are brutal, that was the point of my little story.

This isn't one way radio where you can just say you are right and you won the arguement. You are wrong and you not only lost the arguement you are too stupid to acknowledge the fact.

You and I have been through this once before... I want three hundred words supporting #21 to be an Assistant Captain next year, earning his 2.6M and leading the Sens from the 5-6 pair.

Anonymous said...

As usual, you deflect from the question as you know you are wrong. People with connected brain cells can look up his stats on TSN or NHL.com and see that his Edmonton stats are worse than Philly's. So your point is moot.

Anything that is fact can be supported by actual numbers or supporting evidence. Stating something is one way or another while the evidence says otherwise only shows your ignorance.

You are a Pierre McGuire wannabe, spouting off at everyone, trying too pass off your musings as in depth on ice analysis even when the facts don't support your claim. But why let facts and logic get in the way of a good rant eh?

Canucnik said...

Hey random:

The man had 2 shots in 17 games, he didn't play for the Flyers in the playoffs they gave him token minutes like we should have done all year.

So just get working on your 300 words, you sound like a Gord Wilson/Steve Lloyd compilation of BS and bluster.

Post Script: Use your own observations once in a while it can be very informative.

Post Script II: Ask the guy sitting next to you (Jason York)what the kids on the Sen's bench think?

Anonymous said...

I didn't know they got him for his offensive prowess? I do know they got him for his skills as a shutdown defenceman and captain.

His average TOI in the 2008 playoffs was almost 17 min, do you know who else played roughly that amount of time? Volchenkov. Even if you think average TOI should be higher, it might have had something to do with the 2 separated shoulders he was playing with. And straight from the Flyers website:

Highest TOI in the 2008 playoffs: 26:32 (vs. WSH, 4/17/08)
Led the team in blocked shots (45) and hits (56)

Clearly they were only giving him token minutes...

PS: Unlike yours, my observations are supported by more than pure conjecture.

Canucnik said...

Random:

I conceed to your shakey NHL Stats.

But you see how the "real" world works you have to sit and watch the old cowboy play tonight.

Where as Bell and the other kids had to put up with this bullshit, Campoli doesn't and he's already registered wonderment at his new mate.

PS: You have yet to make any observation save your debatable stats.

PS II: A mediocre performance tonight could land you in the retest with the other GTA Scouts this summer.

Anonymous said...

hahahah, just admit it canuk - he has you dead to rights, supported with real numbers!

It takes a big man to admit when they're wrong.

Anonymous said...

Yes, TOI stats are shaky at best...

PS: I've made observations, they're just over your head.

Canuknik said...

5:00PM.

NHL stats are not "Real" Numbers, they are subjective approximations made by a man my age who sees about as well as I do.

Any accountant will tell you garbage in, equals garbage out.

So "haha" you get to watch the old cowboy tonight along with young "Radom" there will not be any statistical anomalies this time. You boys will have to rate his game for all the internet to see!

Post Script: As my bookie used to say if you don't know the "mark" after two hands fold and go home.
Talk to you guys later!

Anonymous said...

So, a guy your age with your eye sight 'approximates' the stats, but you see everything? Right, I call BS.

Also, I kept almost all of the stats talk related to TOI and PIM. Tough to approximate that... He's either on the ice or not. He either gets a penalty, or not.

You should listen to your bookie.

Canucnik said...

Random:

Are you one of these stats guys that never played?

Your cowboy was on for the first goal against again... He's killin' Cory's plan.

As Galley discribed it you shouldn't be the second defenceman behind the net. PP or not no excuse. It's the same as when he left his feet the other night trying to cover two guys if you don't get the puck everyone is fucked

He's back to his desperation ring arounds to the Sharks offside winger resulting in numerous scoring chances.

It doesn't matter if it's in the corner or in front of the net he never recovers the puck, it's called reaction time. When you get to a certain age the puck doesn't come to you anymore. He goes another game without a take away! (It's his job.)

When the Sens turn back to recover/back cheeck, Jason is left in the dust at center ice.

One positive they gave him to Kuba tonight. Campoli caught on fast!

OK Random tell me about #21's game tonight.

Anonymous said...

wow