Things in Ottawa have been, to put it nicely, tough this season. With 37 points, they’re tied for third with Buffalo in the Northeast Division. They’re eight points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and this comes after a season where they finished fifth overall in the East and lost to Pittsburgh in the opening round of the playoffs. The Senators may have played a bit over their heads last year in spite of key injuries to Pascal Leclaire, Milan Michalek, and Jason Spezza.
This season, the script is virtually the same as those same three players are hurt again and this time, Brian Elliott and Mike Fisher aren’t picking up the slack. For coach Cory Clouston that’s become a serious problem as the Sens have fallen into the non-playoff team pack and the heat is on for Clouston to push the right buttons once again to get Ottawa back to the playoff hunt. Sens GM Bryan Murray, however, isn’t giving Clouston any votes of confidence as the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch shares.
After reading the riot act to the players before practice, Murray said in a scrum with reporters he couldn’t confirm Clouston is going to coach this club until the end of the season.
Clouston is in the final year of his contract and it would appear he’s facing a couple of must-wins Friday against the Blackhawks in Chicago and Saturday at home versus the Tampa Bay Lighting.
“I’m not going to answer a question like that because I don’t know,” said Murray. “We go to Chicago. We come home and play Tampa. We go on the road the following week. I can’t answer that honestly. I’ve talked to the staff about that. We’re all in a position where we have to do a better job.”
The Senators have a lot of problems, most of which center around staying healthy. The Sens had to know they couldn’t rely on Pascal Leclaire to stay healthy at all as he’s never been able to stay healthy ever in his career. Injuries to Spezza and Michalek are gut-punches for a team that’s not exactly deep with skilled forwards. Free agent acquisition Sergei Gonchar has been a severe disappointment and making some people think back on his years in Boston.
In other words, Bryan Murray had better be careful about who he’s pointing the finger at in Canada’s capital city because the mess in Ottawa isn’t just Clouston’s to clean up. The team Murray has helped put together wildly overachieved last year and it set the bar a bit too high for Clouston this season. Assuming that Brian Elliott or Leclaire would be able to replicate the success they had last year or that Mike Fisher’s one year offensive explosion would repeat itself was a huge gamble and it’s one that could cost both the coach and GM their job if things don’t turn around.
The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie
The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.
Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.
Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.
Highlight of the night:
Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.
–Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.
Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.
After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.
Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.
Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).
LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.
Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.
Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.
After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.
As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.
St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.
The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.
It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.
You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.