OTTAWA -- In what was easily Paul MacLean's most entertaining press conference since he became the coach of the Ottawa Senators, MacLean addressed the status of Jason Spezza, his line combinations and recent comments by Montreal Canadiens forward Brandon Prust after Ottawa's optional practice Saturday afternoon.
The Senators square off against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series Sunday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS).
MacLean said Spezza, who has been recovering from surgery to repair a herniated disc sustained on Jan. 27, took a "public skate" Saturday morning but is no closer to entering the lineup.
Kyle Turris, who has been serving as the Senators' first-line center since Spezza's injury, has been moved around several times in the postseason lineup. In Game 2, Jean-Gabriel Pageau saw time on the top line, leading some media to wonder if MacLean was unhappy with Turris' performance.
"Kyle's had a tremendous season, and he's played hard in the playoffs," MacLean said. "A lot of times, when we move him around, it's to get a different look for him and against a different set of defensemen. If they're playing their best guys against them, maybe we put him against their next-best guys. Those are the types of things we’re doing to generate offense."
MacLean also was asked about his war of words with the Canadiens and coach Michel Therrien, who took offense to MacLean referring to Raphael Diaz as "No. 61." Brandon Prust also made waves when he referred to MacLean as a "bug-eyed fat walrus."
"I don't even know who No. 61 is on my team," MacLean said, joking. "Are you going to hold that against me? There are an awful lot of number combinations and different names. If I hurt [Therrien's] feelings, oh my gosh, I apologize for that. If that's the battle of words, I don't see that. I'm working hard to coach my own team.
"[As for Prust], well … 'bug-eyed,' I've never been called that before. That's a new one. 'Walrus?' That’s too easy. But I'll tell you one thing: I'm not fat. I might be husky, but I'm not fat. So I took offense to that."
MacLean also said approximately 10 players from the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League would be coming to Ottawa to serve in different capacities. Some would be taking part in orientation with the club, while others will be relegated to the "Black Aces" to serve as backup should any Senators become injured during the series.
"I don't know their names, or numbers for that matter," MacLean said with a smile.
The coach was then reminded that No. 61 on his team was Andre Benoit.
"Oh, thank you," MacLean said. "I wouldn't want to mix that up."
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