Pascal Leclaire to start Game 5 for Senators

Thumbnail image for leclaireagain.jpgThe Ottawa Senators will start should-be No. 1 goalie Pascal Leclaire over their actual No. 1 Brian Elliott tonight as the team tries to fight off elimination at Mellon Arena. It’s pretty difficult to look at this as anything but a band-aid solution for the wobbling Senators (and it’s not as if Leclaire was that great in relief of Elliott on Tuesday night, either). Still, it’s not like Elliott was setting the world on fire, so why not. Right?

TSN has the story, as well as some facts that (surprise, surprise) don’t exactly lean in Ottawa’s favor.

Pittsburgh, which was 25-12-4 at Mellon Arena in the regular season, can punch its ticket to the next round with a home victory tonight.Since 1991, the Penguins are 10-4 when they have an opportunity to close out a series on home ice.

Pittsburgh, the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions, won a wild Game 4 matchup in Ottawa on Tuesday, downing the Senators by a 7-4 count. The Penguins scored five times during an eight-goal second period, which proved to be the second-highest scoring period all-time in NHL postseason history.

Sidney Crosby continued his torrid start to the 2010 playoffs with two goals and two assists in Tuesday’s win. Crosby now has 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in the series to lead the league in playoff scoring and became only the second player in NHL history to notch at least two points in each of his team’s first four games to a playoff series (Paul Coffey, 1989). It was Crosby’s first four-point playoff game since Game 2 versus Ottawa in the 2008 quarterfinals.

While the Philadelphia Flyers are banged up and the New Jersey Devils are throwing jars of jelly to exorcise their demons, the Senators have an even bigger mountain to climb being that they’d need to win 2 games on the road, 1 game in Ottawa and three in a row to come back in this series.

Still, there would be no better time for Leclaire to justify the hype he came into Ottawa with than to stand on his head and lead a miracle run for the Senators. These playoffs have been crazy enough for it to happen. You never know.

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
Leave a comment

The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
1 Comment

News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier

Rangers at ‘Hawks: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Corey Crawford