|From left: Brian Pothier, Chris Kelly, Patrick Eaves, Andrej Meszaros and Ray Emery at practice on Friday. Photo:OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
After their first practice at the newly named Scotiabank Place on Friday morning, the Ottawa Senators left for western Canada this afternoon in preparation of Saturday night's matchup with the Edmonton Oilers.
In the wake of a 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, coach Bryan Murray is expecting another strong effort from a western team.
"Edmonton is fast, and they're a very exciting hockey team. They're like us. They're going to put pressure on you. They'll be a playoff team in the west and as we see now, playoff teams in the west are pretty good."
Captain Daniel Alfredsson is looking forward to the trip.
"It's always fun to go to western Canada. It's a good atmosphere and it's going to be a good challenge for us."
Goaltender Dominik Hasek was gunning for his 22nd victory against the Sharks on Thursday. Now he'll work on getting it against Edmonton. He hopes the loss to San Jose is a wake-up call to his team.
"We have to find a way to win those games. At the beginning of the season, we didn't have many close wins. It's easy to win 6-1 but harder to win 3-2 or 2-1. You appreciate those more. Those are the games you have to work a little bit harder. In the playoffs, you may win one game 5-1, but the other four or five games are close games. The other goalie may play good, or the team plays well defensively, but you have to find a way to win those games if you want to be a top team in the NHL or win the Cup."
Alfredsson wants to see more creativity in games like Thursday night's.
"We did not create enough to score goals, that's the problem. We know if we don't play our best it will be tough for us to win. Getting that first goal is very important. We were impatient and we were trying to get back in that game right away."
"When teams clog the middle like that, we have to adjust," added Antoine Vermette.
Murray spoke about what he wants from his team during such close-checking affairs.
"No. 1 is to get the puck into the zone. No. 2 is to show patience and get a decent shot. We didn't enter the puck deep and make the plays needed to score on a good goalie. We tried to do too much individually. Both goals were caused by what we did, not what they did. It's hard to lose a game like that, but it's invaluable. You get an education from it. I thought we worked hard enough, just not together."
"We have to be smarter," added defenceman Wade Redden. "Sometimes we get it into our heads that we have to score every shift but we're making plays that are costing us."
Jason Spezza didn't accompany the team to Edmonton so, instead, the injured centre (pulled chest muscle) will work out tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. and Sunday night at 7:30 p.m., to try and get back into game shape. Those were the best times available for Spezza to work out.
"I guess I have to go to bed at 8 p.m. tonight," joked the 22-year-old.
Chris Neil and Brandon Bochenski didn't participate in Friday's practice. Both have a good chance to play Saturday, though, according to Murray. Neil was given the day off on Friday because he was feeling a bit of pain after receiving a crosscheck to his side against San Jose. Bochenski tweaked his shoulder against the Sharks but, according to the coach, "he was feeling a bit better (on Friday)."
Meanwhile Christoph Schubert, who missed the Sharks game with a pulled hamstring, told Murray during the practice he would be ready to play in Edmonton.