Monday, January 4, 2010
Clouston Should Go Back To Leclaire For Bruins Tilt
Let's stop the Martin Gerber comparisons.
A lot of fans are fretting about Pascal Leclaire letting in "soft goals", and they have a right to, but Leclaire is in no danger of falling into Gerber territory.
Leclaire is a top-tier athlete with elite technical skills and the right mental approach to become the goalie the Senators have seemingly always needed. Leclaire is in a totally different class of goaltender than Gerber was.
It seems strange to say at the mid-point of the season, but patience is the key word here. Leclaire is only going to get better.
The problem with Leclaire has been his many injuries all clustered together over the span of two years. He's the type of goalie that needs to get into a groove and play a lot of minutes for him to get his game in shape. Before his freak jaw injury, Leclaire was playing like everyone expected him to but has struggled a litte with consistency since coming back. That doesn't seem out of the ordinary but what should make everyone hopeful is that when Leclaire is on his game, he's right up there with the best of them as far as "big save" ability goes.
Clouston trusts this guy and the only way to get Leclaire back in top form is to play the hell out of him until the Olympic break. Brian Elliott is coming along well in his role as a backup, but that's all he's proven himself to be so far - a backup.
The important point is that the Senators are getting points. Lots of 'em. When and if Leclaire starts costing the team points regularly, then it's time to panic. But that hasn't been the case so far. In fact, Leclaire has been directly responsible for a lot of those points when the team couldn't score in the early going, and it's not like they are setting the world on fire now (Philly game excluded).
As of this writing, it was unclear who Clouston would start for the Boston game, but my money would be on Leclaire.
As for Alex Kovalev, he just can't win it seems. The morning show guys on the Team 1200 we're all over him after his 5 point, 4 goal performance against the Flyers. It almost would have been better for Kovalev if he had just stopped at 2 goals. That way we would have been spared the "he should be doing this all the time" and "he's so talented... when he wants to be" talk.
The truth is, Kovalev has been getting better and better in the past 2 or 3 weeks and has, along with Chris Kelly, Ryan Shannon and Chris Neil, allowed the Senators to not miss a beat after losing both Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.
Maybe all he needed was a little more responsibility and some pressure. It may have been the game of his career, but don't let the dramatics fool you. Kovalev has been working up to that type of game for a while now.
Senators fans certainly hope that trend continues.
On a personal note, you may have noticed that my posts have been far apart lately. That's because I'm getting ready to become a first-time father any day now and understandably, my priorities are elsewhere at the moment. Knowing that my attention is going to be on more important things in the near future, some kind of format change is going to happen at Black Aces, perhaps one big weekly column on the weekends rather than the usual 3 or 4 during the week. I'm undecided right now what shape it will take but I still look forward to the give and take with all you Sens fans in the future.
Thanks to my readers for being patient in what is shaping up to be a whirlwind few months ahead!