Now there’s something to worry about.
A National Hockey League season that had looked so promising is threatening to run right off the rails.
The Ottawa Senators lost their second game, 5-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, and head to Washington for a Monday night game against Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals.
You can’t like those odds. Ovechkin might not let them out of town alive.
The Senators could easily stumble home 0-3-0 to a city in deep angst.
Coach Cory Clouston has a host of concerns to address when the team practises Sunday in the Washington suburbs, including:
– how to score more than two goals in two games;
– how to get more than 18 shots in a game, which was what they had against the Maple Leafs;
– how to stop those big leaks on defence.
It would also be nice if Clouston could get his players to give netminder Pascal Leclaire some support.
Leclaire kept his teammates close in a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, and he might have had a chance against the Maple Leafs if the Senators hadn’t been so badly outplayed.
Right now, though, Leclaire is out there by himself, and that can’t be a lot of fun. He ended up facing 38 shots from the Maple Leafs.
Clouston was as downcast as he had ever been after a Senators loss.
“This was not good enough in any one area,” he said.
“We just weren’t ready to compete,” Clouston said. “They wanted it more than we did. They executed a lot better than we did.
“It’s very disappointing. We felt we had a pretty positive preseason, we had a good week of practice, but we’ve come out and been outworked, outcompeted, outexecuted in all areas.”
He said he wasn’t at all surprised by the Maple Leafs, but that “the biggest surprise was us.”
The one player he could commend was Leclaire.
“Pascal has been very good,” Clouston said. “He didn’t have a lot of support (Friday) night or (Saturday) night. It’s not easy. It’s very difficult, for sure.”
Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur, Kris Versteeg, during a 5-on-3 power play, and Tim Brent scored for the Maple Leafs (2-0-0), while Jean-Sebastien Giguere faced 18 shots.
Centre Jason Spezza, who declared himself healthy to play after missing the first game because of a sore groin, scored Ottawa’s only goal, but he also had a mixed night, in particular coughing up the puck for Toronto’s first goal.
Brent’s goal, at 5:39 of the third, came after a lengthy video review.
The goal was Leclaire’s fault. He tried to flip the puck high out of the zone, but he didn’t get it high enough and Brent knocked it down.
He then banged it toward the right post and Leclaire couldn’t get back in time.
Leclaire did a good job of pretending to stop the puck, and referee Justin St. Pierre waved “no goal,” but took it to review. There, it was determined to be a goal.
Leclaire was gracious. He could have hung his teammates out to dry, but didn’t.
“Coming here and losing to these guys, it’s always a disappointment,” he said. “It’s a great rivalry, but we couldn’t come up with a stronger effort. It’s disappointing, but there are lots of games ahead.
“We made some mistakes. I think it’s some stuff that’s going to be easy to fix and not panic. I think that’s the most important thing. We know what we’re doing wrong, and it’s up to us to fix the little things.
“But I don’t think we’re that far off at all.”
Clouston said it wasn’t a matter of X’s and O’s, but rather one of character.
“We’ve got to improve our game,” he said.
“X’s and O’s don’t mean anything if we don’t compete harder than we did, if we don’t skate and move our feet.”© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Stanley Cup!!! Not so fast. This IS only game 2