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Clouston steering Sens turnaround

Senators coach has team pointed in right direction heading down stretch

Thursday, 12.03.2009 / 2:15 PM / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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Clouston steering Sens turnaround
After missing 15 games with a lacerated calf, Chris Neil returns to the Senators lineup for tonight's game in Boston against the Bruins. Ottawa is aiming to stretch its current winning streak to five games (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images).
On the very day he was enlisted to steer the turnaround, Cory Clouston was quickly deemed "the right man to right the ship" by one of his loyal troops.

And as the Ottawa Senators head down the final stretch of the 2008-09 season, Clouston continues to deliver on the promise he made when general manager Bryan Murray handed him the head coaching reins at the beginning of February.

When Clouston took over for the fired Craig Hartsburg at the beginning of February, the Senators were a 17-24-7 team that was foundering badly. But since Clouston moved behind the bench, a group that previously couldn't string more than two victories together has reeled off one five-game winning streak and has a chance to repeat that feat in Boston tonight against the Bruins (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).

While the 10-5-3 record under Clouston's direction hasn't yet vaulted the Senators into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race – at 27-29-10, Ottawa is still 13 points shy of a post-season berth – a foundation is clearly being built for a better future.

"We wanted to see how good this team can be," said Clouston, who took the Ottawa head-coaching job on an interim basis and won't look beyond the end of this season just yet. "We also wanted to make sure we had this team moving forward in the right direction and I think, so far, we've been able to do that.

"The proof is in the record right now. Do we play every night exactly the way we want to? No, but I don't think any team can say that right now. We have to give credit to other teams. Sometimes they outplay you, sometimes they have better goaltending, sometimes they get the breaks, sometimes they just deserve to win.

"I think we'd be very arrogant if we thought we should go out there and win every single game. Sometimes, other teams do good things as well but I think overall, we're happy with the direction the team is going in."

"We wanted to see how good this team can be. We also wanted to make sure we had this team moving forward in the right direction and I think, so far, we've been able to do that." - Cory Clouston
That direction will get another test tonight in Beantown against a Bruins team that has won five straight against the Senators, including all three meetings this season. But since posting a 4-3 overtime triumph over Ottawa on Feb. 5 in Clouston's second game, the Eastern Conference-leading Bs have stumbled to a 4-8-3 record.

Still, Clouston knows his team will need more than it showed in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to break through against the Bruins tonight.

"We weren't real sharp in all areas," he said. "We can't have that mistake (against Boston)."

Around the boards

After missing the past 15 games with a lacerated right calf, rugged forward Chris Neil makes his much-anticipated return tonight. That means Shean Donovan will be a healthy scratch ... Defenceman Filip Kuba (flu) won't suit up against the Bruins, but it's expected he'll be good to go against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday (3 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). "He's got to get his strength and conditioning (back)," Clouston said of Kuba. "It's easy to say that he's healthy, but there's a difference between being healthy and being able to play." ... Alex Auld (12-16-6) makes the start in goal tonight.




1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
3 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
4 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
5 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
6 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
7 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
8 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52


E. Karlsson 82 20 54 -15 74
J. Spezza 75 23 43 -26 66
K. Turris 82 26 32 22 58
C. MacArthur 79 24 31 12 55
B. Ryan 70 23 25 7 48
A. Hemsky 75 13 30 -15 43
M. Michalek 82 17 22 -25 39
M. Zibanejad 69 16 17 -15 33
M. Methot 75 6 17 0 23
P. Wiercioch 53 4 19 -1 23
C. Anderson 25 16 8 .911 3.00
R. Lehner 12 15 6 .913 3.06