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Elliott back in net for Senators as carousel continues

Image (1) Elliott-thumb-250x166-6926.jpg for post 204

The Ottawa Senators have some issues. For a team that sat in third place in the East coming out of the Olympic Break, they’re certainly facing a series of problems that proves just how improbable it was they were winning so much. Ottawa cannot score (three goals in three games) and the goaltending is becoming a bit of a concern.

Pascal Leclaire, who was so good for the Columbus Blue Jackets just two years ago is having an extremely sub-par season this year. The Senators starter for much of the season, Brian Elliott, won nine straight games in January and February but has allowed 15 goals in his last four starts.

Neither goaltender has been able to stay in net for very long, with both being pulled once in the past three games for the Senators; Leclaire especially has struggled, allowed two goals on five shots in the first six minutes against Carolina before being pulled.

So now we have a team with aspirations of going deep into the playoffs, yet cannot figure out just what the heck to do in net. Forget about the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals issues in net; they have the offense to cover up for goaltending mistakes on most nights. The Senators have no such luck: their offense is certainly not horrible but nowhere near the powerhouses those two teams possess.

The Senators are now switching back and forth between goaltenders, with Elliott starting tonight against Edmonton despite Leclaire actually putting a decent game together in his last outing. But the team is struggling and sliding down the standings and they need to find some combination in net that can be relied upon. Elliott certainly has shown to be the better option for most of the season, but he’s struggled lately.

Copper & Blue breaks it down further, and says it’s much more than just an issue with the goaltending:

Even though they are mired in goaltending problems, Ottawa has other troubles. Ottawa’s big money players are facing the tough minutes and being slightly outshot and outscored at even strength. The bottom of their lineup is outshooting the opponents, and except for Nick Foligno’s outstanding goalie luck, being outscored at even strength.

Silver Seven blames Spezza a bit as the article said “Spezza’s game seemed to decline until fairly recently, when he finally realized he could shoot the puck.” but in reality the Senators are flawed from top-to-bottom. The goaltending is bad, the defense is thin and the best forwards on the team can’t handle tough minutes, even in the East.

The Senators will play both goaltenders on their current three-game road trip. So much for stability in net headed into the playoffs.