Cory Clouston

Cory Clouston becomes latest Senators scapegoat as Bryan Murray fires another coach

The 2010-11 season was a fairly disastrous one for the Ottawa Senators. To the surprise of many, the team decided to (more or less) reward general manager Bryan Murray with a three-year contract extension yesterday. Yet to the surprise of few, it didn’t take long for the team to give embattled head coach Cory Clouston the boot, as TSN reports that the Senators fired Clouston as well as two assistant head coaches: Greg Carvel and Brad Lauer.

Assistant Luke Richardson and goalie coach Rick Wamsley will keep their jobs, though. (One must wonder if Wamsley gets along well with new goalie of the future Craig Anderson, thus keeping his job safe.)

While it would be tough to argue that Clouston was beyond reproach in the Senators’ sometimes-ugly 32-40-10 season, it seems a bit unfair to me. To paraphrase an old Bill Parcells quote, it’s pretty tough to blame the cook (Clouston) when the person buying the groceries (Murray) failed to buy the right ingredients.

After all, if Murray was such a visionary at the GM position, then why is he averaging a coach per year in his days as a general manager? His coaches include himself, Clouston, Craig Hartsburg and John Paddock.

In the mean time, the Senators keep rotating between awful and mediocre outputs, with Murray being one of the few constants. Clouston managed to help Ottawa grind its way to a first round appearance last season before the Pittsburgh Penguins dismantled his overmatched team. This season didn’t even go that well, however, although it’s tough to blame Clouston alone when the team kept getting hit with injuries and the stark reality that they simply didn’t amass enough talent.

Then again, you know what they say: you cannot fire the team, so fire the coach. There are certain GMs in the NHL who seem to have an endless amount of rope — likely because they found a way to charm a loyal and/or oblivious owner — and it seems like Murray might be one of them.

Either way, TSN points out that Clouston’s contract was set to expire on July 31, so it is reasonable to say that he didn’t do enough to show he was undeniably worthy of an extension. The frustrating part, though, is that Murray didn’t deserve one either.

Fair or not, it’s clear that Murray will get an opportunity to rebuild the Senators. He began such a task in earnest by dealing Mike Fisher and making other moves to stockpile draft picks. One can only speculate that he had an idea his job was secure while doing so, but again, that’s just speculation.

Nine times out of 10, a general manager will be able to keep his job while placing the blame on his coach’s shoulders. (In the event that one goes and one stays, that is.) Still, one must wonder how many times Murray will be able to hire and fire a coach before he ends up being the one on the chopping block.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

3 Comments

Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

8 Comments

The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

24 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

***

Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

13 Comments

With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.