Leclaire finally healthy, but Elliott stealing the spotlight

CanWest News Service
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NHL/OTTAWA SENATORS

Daniel Alfredsson's wife, Bibi, offered some words of caution to Ottawa Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire a few days back when he mentioned he would be spending part of the Olympic break at his cottage near Mont Tremblant, Que.

"She said, 'Don't ski, don't ski, with the year you're having,' " Leclaire said, with a hearty laugh, before the Senators defeated the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place.

Left, Pascal Leclaire. Right, Brian Elliott

OTTAWA -

Daniel Alfredsson's wife, Bibi, offered some words of caution to Ottawa Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire a few days back when he mentioned he would be spending part of the Olympic break at his cottage near Mont Tremblant, Que.

"She said, 'Don't ski, don't ski, with the year you're having,' " Leclaire said, with a hearty laugh, before the Senators defeated the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place.

Leclaire told Alfredsson's better half to relax. The most stressful thing he plans to do while kicking back with his girlfriend at Tremblant is going to the spa, doing some shopping and sipping on some wine. Then again, the way his season has gone so far, nobody would be shocked if he slipped on some ice. Or was hit by flying glass. Or struck by a meteor, for that matter.

To recap his year of living dangerously, Leclaire missed 16 games after being hit by an errant puck while sitting on the bench. He was out for another nine games after suffering a concussion when Mike Fisher put a shot off his forehead during a pre-game warm-up on Jan. 14.

"Everything started happening 400 or 500 m.p.h. and the guys scored about 20 goals in a row in their last drill, and then I started being dizzy," he said of the experience.

Leclaire has also missed games due to the flu and a groin injury.

He has played only one period - mop-up third-period duty in Saturday's 5-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs - since Jan. 12 and has no wins since Dec. 31.

Elliott was shaky against the Maple Leafs and it was a mild surprise when coach Cory Clouston opted to give him his 11th straight start Tuesday.

Clearly, the coach has confidence in Elliott, who was supposed to be the backup to Leclaire when the season began. Leclaire is being paid $3.6 million US this year and $4.8 million in 2010-11, but without Elliott's play in the past three weeks, the Senators would be fighting just to make the playoffs instead of sitting in their current comfortable position, fifth in the conference.

It's Elliott's job to lose, even if Clouston on Tuesday refused to label him the club's No. 1 goalie.

"You can call it whatever you want, you can put whatever number you want on it," Clouston said. "I'm not going to label anything right now."

While many players are welcoming the Olympic break because it's a chance to take a breather from a busy schedule, it comes at the worst possible time for Leclaire, who is trying to get back into a groove. Considering the Senators will go into the break by playing three games in four days - Thursday at Scotiabank Place against the Washington Capitals, Saturday at the Detroit Red Wings and Sunday at the New York Islanders - Leclaire figures to see at least some action. Then again, nothing has gone according to plan so far.

"Hopefully I get to play before the break, but it's a coaching decision," he said. "Whatever happens, I'm not worried."

Organizations: OTTAWA SENATORS, Scotiabank Place, NHL Calgary Flames Toronto Maple Leafs Elliott's Washington Capitals Detroit Red Wings New York Islanders

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Mont Tremblant, US

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