SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 6:  Goaltender Pascal Leclaire #33 of the Ottawa Senators on the ice against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on April 6, 2010 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Sitting at the wrong end of a 3-1 series deficit, the Ottawa Senators have elected to make a change in net, pulling goaltender Brian Elliott and replacing him with Pascal Leclaire.

 

Elliott has struggled in his first playoff action, and although there’s no shortage of struggling Senators his 0.853 SV% through four games makes it clear that some of the blame for their performance in this series falls on him.  It’s completely understandable that the coaching staff would elect to make a change.

 

Of course, Leclaire isn’t an ideal replacement.  He’s bounced between the injured list and on-ice struggles all season; in fact, he’s done it for three of his last four seasons.  He doesn’t have much of a career playoff record in the AHL or junior; he’s never won a playoff series in five tries, although his save percentage in some of those games was quite good.

 

Head coach Cory Clouston has a pair of imperfect options to choose from, and the main consideration at this point must simply be that Elliott isn’t getting the job done.  Switching goaltenders may be an act of desperation, but he must do something, and thus it’s completely understandable.

Comments (8)

  1. It’s do or die time for Leclaire. He either comes through or flops and that will be pretty much it for him in a Senators uniform. His whole NHL career could come to a hault tonight as I don’t think anyone will want him even if the Sens buy him out. But going that route isn’t exactly great either as the only good playoff proven goaltender available is Turco. After that it drops off to playoff flopper Nabokov, the more of a 1b goaltender in Biron, and of course the other non playoff performer Theodore. Very slim pickings when you consider that both the Flyers and Sharks could both be in the market for a starter depending on how they feel about their group of goalies now.

  2. Devon:

    I disagree completely; I think the market is flooded. Assuming that we figure four teams (SJ, PHI, STL and OTT) are looking for starters, there are possibilities outside of Turco/Nabokov/Theodore/Biron.

    Chris Mason, Dan Ellis, and Ray Emery are all free agents, with Josh Harding and one of Halak/Price presumably available via trade. Personally, as an NHL GM I’d look for a 1A/1B alignment, with Mason as 1A and one of those names (or a guy like Auld/Legace) as a 1B.

  3. Are the Sharks really going to part with Nabokov? I mean, I know his post-season record is spotty and he certainly didn’t finish the regular season on a particularly strong note this year either, but let’s not forget he’s been consistently among the top 10 goalies in the league for the last decade. If I’m San Jose I prefer the devil I know to the one that I don’t (e.g., a Theodore, Turco or Emery).

    As for Ottawa, I think they should continue to groom Elliott, who at times this year has looked very much like the real deal. As Don Cherry pointed out a week ago, Elliott has very quick hands, something that’s tough to teach and can make up for a lot of other goaltending flaws. If Ottawa can pick up a guy like Josh Harding they’d have a very respectable 1A/1B tandem right there, although I imagine there will be more than a few teams dialing up the Wild this summer.

  4. This offseason which will start pretty soon for the Sens, they should be calling both Mason and Ellis and trying to get one of the two aboard. Ellis and Elliot would be a good tandem for them. But they really need to address alot more then that. I would imagine its probaly coming time for them to look at their core group and starting move some players outside of a 15 game stretch this year they simply had nothing. The best of luck to Leclaire and when he gets bought out he should go to edmonton surely he would be better the Bulin.

  5. Ah I missed those other guys certainly a good crop there my mistake. and yes St Louis will be looking for one and it surprises me you didn’t mention tr the Oilers also poking around although they probably want a young goalie to build around. As for Philly I think Holmgren will likely sign Emery and bring back Leighton and let them battle it out. The Sens we’re considering offering a contract to Ellis after they had cut Emery but the Preds locked him up quickly. I’d say they will snoop around to see how much money and year Turco is looking for then if he’s asking to much they’ll likely look at Ellis or Mason.

    As for Elliot I think the Pens have really exposed a weakness and it’s his ability to recover after he commits. Gonchar and Malkin have done it to him at least twice where Gonchar faked him out then passed to Malkin who blasted it past him before Elliot could recover. He’s likely going to be a 1b guy never a legitimate starter. But still considering when he was drafted I’d say he more then exceed expectations. If the Sens can they’ll likely look to lock up someone for about 2-3 years and keep Elliot and whomever they sign together for that time and wait to see how Lehner turns out. By that point he’ll be 21to 22 years of age and likely ready to see some regular NHL action.

  6. Also the Oilers will be going around and seeing what the cost of Price/Halak and Harding if they can one then they’ll likely part with Bulin real quick. But it’ll be difficult to pry either and the asking price will probably start with either Cogliano/Gagne and go from there.

  7. How can you say nabokovs playoff record are bad?, none of the big guns for san jose produce, so them getting booted from the playoffs early i dont think are all on him, besides i nthink hell sign with washington ( the russian conection there) and he can work with varlamov and neuivirth, and san jose i think would make a pitch for carey price, a great goalie who wouldnt have the media presure on him in san jose and he’d be cheaper considering the shakrs probaley cant resign both marleau and nabokov

  8. Well Leclaire might not have to go job hunting yet. What a performance by him tonight and so the Sens once again succeed expectations of most taking it past 5 games.

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