Pascal Leclaire’s return to Ottawa lineup still unknown

Things this season for the Ottawa Senators haven’t been all that fun. They’ve struggled offensively and their defense and goaltending has been spotty at best. Part of the reason for that is because of continued injury problems for starting goalie Pascal Leclaire. Leclaire’s been out since December 17th after getting hurt in pregame warm-ups. It’s unclear what his injury is but with Leclaire’s history of injuries, it could be anything.

The Senators could stand to have some stability in goal and getting Leclaire back in the lineup would do wonders for that. Backup Brian Elliott and minor league call-up Mike Brodeur aren’t getting things done in the meantime. When will Leclaire be rejoining the team? Coach Cory Clouston would like to know that as much as Sens fans do.

Allen Panzeri of Senators Extra shares the update.

“He’s as disappointed and frustrated as anyone,” said Clouston.

“But right now he’s really not any further than he was a week ago. What the extent of that’s going to be, if I could tell you guys, I would. I just don’t know where he’s at right now.

“We still feel he’s going to play this year, but when that’s going to be, I’m not sure.”

If there’s a guy that has shown at least a little guts in goal it’s 19 year-old prospect Robin Lehner. Lehner earned the win last week against the New York Islanders but was sent back down to AHL Binghamton to get more work in. If Leclaire is set to be out much longer and with Elliott and Brodeur both being ineffective, Lehner getting some more time in Ottawa is a possibility.

The problem there is that the Sens don’t want to derail the development of such a young player. After all, Lehner still played in this year’s World Junior Championships and struggled a bit with Team Sweden. Throwing him to the wolves in the NHL while he’s still getting used to the game in the AHL might be asking too much of him, especially with a team dealing with so many problems the way Ottawa is. Still, if Ottawa is going to do anything to improve their standings this year it may call for drastic measures to be taken.

Video: Flyers, Bolts confirm 3-on-3 OT is pretty much the greatest thing ever

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Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.

Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.

And what a look it was.

In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.

It was, in a word, fun.

Lots of fun.

A quick sampling of reviews:

Of course, not everybody was a fan:

Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.

But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)


Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…