Senators head coach Paul MacLean offered his thoughts after Friday's practice following the Sens 5-3 comeback win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. Here's what he had to say...
On turning strong third periods into strong starts:
We keep playing them, we keep playing the games. Our record is 3-1 and we haven't played what we would say is a full game yet. The good news is we've found a way to win the games and a lot of times it's in the third period but we've found a way to get there. Our starts to the game, whether we're nervous or the other team is better prepared than us — who knows what it ends up being? Our defensive play and our competition level has allowed our goaltenders to keep the game where you're in the game and at the end we find a way to win the game. The bottom line is we find a way to win the game. We obviously need to continue to work at our game but we're gaining momentum in our play and we have to keep working at it.
On what he didn't like last night:
To me it's all about patience and shift length and identifying where your shift started. The fact you can have a shift that's in the defensive zone that's a good shift. Most players, you don't really consider your shift a shift until you've played in the offensive zone and tried to score a goal — especially with a young group, that's the case. They're always trying to show you they can play offence and they're trying to score a goal. What we're trying to get across in that second period is your shift can be a good shift in the defensive zone and then you get the puck to the red line, get off the ice and give your teammate a chance to have that offensive opportunity in the second period. Because of how hard a change is it's important to get your defence off the ice and stay fresh so you can defend in the defensive zone. That's kind of the teeter totter we have going on in the second period is our recognition of when to get off the ice and when is enough. The other team has something to do with it too. They don't let you off the ice sometimes. Once you get the game that you're playing in your zone it makes it harder to get off the ice.
On recognizing an opponent's role in a team's struggles:
We give the other team a tremendous amount of respect and we know they have good players and there are going to be times where they take over the game. We're never going to be able to play a 60 minute game and say we dominated the whole game. In the National Hockey Game that's not going to be a reality. It's controlling momentum in the game that separates the elite teams from the teams that want to be elite. They can stick to it and they recognize that 50/50 in the NHL is a lot of your shifts. It's ping pong. There's nothing going on but if nothing is going on for either side that's good for both sides. You have to wait and be patient for your opportunities and strike when your opportunity is there. With our group we're trying to teach and trying to learn and unfortunately the only way to learn is to play the games.
On Karlsson speaking up after the first intermission:
Erik felt that's what was needed and that's what captains do when things aren't right. That's what the leadership group is supposed to do. If they're not doing things the way they need to be done it needs to be addressed. Quite frankly when they do it, it usually goes a lot further than when I do it. It's a healthy thing to have discussion and have debate and that's a strong part of being a leader and leadership is saying something when it has to be said.
On the versatility of the lineup:
We feel that with the group we have here our minutes can be very even. With the forward group the plan at the start of the game is everyone plays 15 minutes. It's going to up or down from 15 depending on how you're playing. If someone is having a real good night they should end up being higher on the minutes. Last night we played anybody against anybody, we didn't want to get caught up in a matchup game. We didn't want to have a certain guy against Matt Duchene or a certain group against MacKinnon. We didn't want to get into that matchup game. We believe we can just get our guys on the ice and they can play. That's what we want to become is a team that can play anybody against anybody and roll them out the door. What we want to control is shift length.
On Lazar moving in with Phillips:
I think it's a great sign for our group. That's what leadership does is it steps up and fixes things. He's way better off in Chris Phillips' basement with Ben than in my basement with me. I think he made the right choice.
On if Lazar moving in is an indication he's in Ottawa permanently:
It's an indication we don't want him in the hotel on his own just fending for himself. Teammates have to take care of teammates. That's what teams do and that's what families do and it's great to see the veteran group step up.
On Saturday's goaltender:
On changes to the lineup:
We're still evaluating, I haven't had a chance to look much at Columbus at this point in time. We'll make a final decision on that before tomorrow.
On Smith down the middle:
Zack looks better at centre. He's a better player there, he's played there his whole life. As we move forward I believe there will be another time we put him on the wing and see if he can be comfortable there again, but we didn't mind the way he played at centre last night. I think to add the versatility to our lineup and give us different looks, having Zack have the ability to play the wing and be effective is important for us down the road. At some point we're probably going to do that again. If he can't get a comfort level there we're not going to force him just to have him do that but we certainly like the way he has played and the depth it has given our position when he's at centre.
On why he stuck with Anderson:
Craig is a veteran goalie, it was an emotional type of game and in the past he has made saves to keep the games close and we felt he was going to do that again. He was going to have himself a second period and we were going to come out and have a good second period and find a way to get to the game third and be close. That's what he did... I think if you're at game 27 you may be more apt to do that (pull him) than in game four. For me there was a lot going on there, it wasn't just him. Sometimes it's how it happens, it's not like they skated down the wing from the boards and threw it in and it went into the middle of the net. There was a lot going on in those circumstances. For me it was pretty easy to say it wasn't just him.