Game Day Thread — Panthers Vs Senators

After the game against Washington, we judged Pascal Leclaire performance in the same way that pundits criticized Mariah Carey’s acceptance speech at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Instead of focusing on the good — Leclaire’s big saves, Carey’s performance in Precious — everyone’s dwelling on the negative things, like the soft goals and an off-her-ass drunk Mariah. To make matters worse, Pascal didn’t do himself any favours when he unleashed this blast on the local media following last night’s loss,

“There were 40 other shots (Thursday night). F—, I’m going to make mistakes … now it seems that every time I give up a goal, it’s scrutinized, and its always the story of the game. If you guys want to keep doing that … I know I make mistakes. I made a mistake on the third goal, but at the same time I thought I did some good stuff. As long as we don’t win, there’s nothing else that matters. It’s 5-2, we’ve got to play smarter defensively, especially against a team like that. We gave them too many scoring chances.” ~ The Ottawa Sun

As cathartic as it probably was for Pascal to shit on the media,  they were just doing their job covering the Senators on a day-to-day basis and Leclaire’s consistent penchant for letting in deflating goals has become a bit of a story.  The goalie with the short term memory has now become the guy with the short fuse. Maybe it was a bit premature on our part start lauding Leclaire’s Memento‘esque short term amnesia. Regardless, when does common sense prevail? Did he not pay attention during training camp when the PR department briefed the players on how to deal with the media? After the way last season’s events unfolded, this is Dany Heatley 101 –  Don’t slight a media group that prides itself upon stringing the words goalie and graveyard together. To illustrate the point, here’s just a quick glance at what the Ottawa media has said about the goaltending recently:

  • Here’s a headline over at the Ottawa Citizen, Deflating Goals Continue to Hurt Senators
  • And here’s another one Leclaire’s problems continue in Washinton
  • And another, Senators goalies struggle to find consistency
  • Brian Elliott didn’t even play the other night and Don Brennan found a way to get in a subtle dig on Off The Posts.

Between the sloppy goaltending and the fact that the body count is climbing faster than a season’s worth of Dexter episodes, this team’s pursuit of a playoff spot has been a war of attrition. Earlier in the season, this team coped with the absences of Anton Volchenkov, Filip Kuba, Chris Neil, and Nick Foligno. Lately, they have had to cope with injuries to more expensive pieces of their roster. First there was the MCL injury to Jason Spezza’s knee, then there was the shoulder injury to Daniel Alfredsson and Bruce Garrioch is reporting that Milan Michalek is out for the next two home games with suspected concussion and that he will not accompany the Senators when they begin a 5-game road trip next week in Carolina. To add some more intrigue to the injury situation, management did call up two  future Sens stars, Zach Smith and Martin St. Pierre to fill out the roster and Cory Clouston did say that both will play tonight. Here are the lines that Garrioch has posted on the Ottawa Sun’s website: Shannon-Fisher-Kovalev; Foligno-Regin-Neil; Ruutu-Kelly-Cheechoo; Smith-St.Pierre-Winchester.

And in an interesting twist, Brian Elliott will get the call to start tonight. I don’t get it. Even though Ottawa’s playing the 13th seeded Panthers tonight, the importance of tonight’s game can’t be understated. With a win tonight, the 13th seeded Panthers can move within 5 points of the 6th place Senators. Bryan Murray acquired Memento to be the number one goalie. After the loss to the Capitals, Leclaire was already hot under the collar. He’s fired up so let him play. Why risk inviting controversy with a potential Elliott win?