The Sens held a lengthy, hour-long practice on Thursday as part of their prep for Friday night's game vs. the New York Islanders. The session came with plenty of line-juggling and pair mixing as the team tries to find something that will click for the month of the November. Sens head coach Paul MacLean spoke with the media as per usual after practice.
Here's what he had to say.
On today's line juggling:
We're trying to get our team ready to play the Islanders and give ourselves our best chance. That's all we're doing.
On if the lines will stick:
Well, we've changed them before but at this point in time, with a chance to prepare yesterday and today, we fell that's how we'll start the game, but who knows by the end of the game
On the shifting D pairings:
We haven't tried the ones that we had today. We're trying to find a way to play better, we haven't played a consistent — the game in Detroit we were pretty good, the Edmonton game was a good 60 minutes, in Chicago for 30 minutes we got them at 4-2 but then we don't end up winning the game. I don't think we can just keep doing the same thing and expect to get better results. We have to try to make some changes and find some combinations at forward and defence that are going to work for us. That's all we're trying to do is find a way to give our team the best chance to win.
On Spezza between Conacher and Neil:
Well, Conacher's got speed and skill, he's on the forecheck hard and as well as Chris Neil, he plays a physical game, he takes care of the puck, they got on, they get down. Neiler gets to the net, Conacher gets the puck, Jason can have the puck and be able to shoot it. We're encouraging Jason to shoot the puck, we want Bobby Ryan to shoot the puck, we want Kyle Turris to shoot the puck, Clarke, we want our forwards to shoot the puck. But, especially our best players, we want them shooting the puck and this gives them two guys that are going to go to the net and give him a chance to shoot the puck.
On dealing with opposing speed:
I think a lot of it is us turning over the puck and giving them numbers, which is pretty hard to defend speed when it's coming at you with numbers. They've got 3-on-2, they've got 4-on-2, they've got 2-on-1, it makes real hard to defend. The structure of our game with the puck has been an issue. Now, does the other team play with good structure and force us to turn the puck over? For sure they do. But, for us a lot of times it's self-inflicted. Our play in the neutral zone I think has been more of a problem for us in our defensive zone than it has just our defensive zone play. The other team, when we turn over pucks, they come at us with numbers and that's the multiplier with speed.
On Friday's starter:
On losses falling on the best players:
I think he (Spezza) has to play better, I think Kyle has to play better, I think Karl has to play better, I think our whole team has to play better. I point the finger at everybody. I point it at myself, I point it at my coaching staff, we haven't done a good enough job to be successful on a consistent basis. Have we had a difficult schedule? Sure, everyone in the league is going to have a difficult schedule, but that's not an excuse for us not to play well for 60 minutes. That's on all of us, that's on the whole team. We're not just asking or point a finger at Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson and just those two guys and it's their fault, or add Chris Phillips to that fault or Chris Neil. It's not all of their faults, leadership is an everybody thing and everybody here is accountable for how they do their job and the expectation is you're going to do your job. That's the coaching staff along with the players. We're all in this together and we haven't done a good enough job to this point to win consistently and that's what we're searching for.
On if there's a shift in mentality from last season:
All I know is you can't live in the past. You can learn from the past. We haven't done enough right now since 22 days of training camp and 12 games into the season, we haven't done enough as a team to be successful. That's all I'm basing this on. Not last year. In '85 I got 101 points, that doesn't mean nothing today. That means nothing if you've scored 40 goals three times. It doesn't mean anything. It's what are you doing today to get better. That's what my job is to do is to try and make decisions based on how is our team going to continue to get better. We've had great growth as a team over the two seasons we've been here and we need to continue to grow. Adversity is something that helps you grow, adversity is something that helped our team grow last year, adversity again is going to help our team grow this year. We have to make sure we're here every day working at it, otherwise it'll just bury us. The most important thing for us is to continue to search for solutions and find a way to get our group to play a more consistent game so that we can win.
On if they can keep things status quo:
I don't think so. I don't think at this point, if your team — no. We have to find solutions, we haven't consistently played game after game after game and played the whole game that we can say we'll just leave it and it'll be okay. I don't believe in that at all.
Page needs to play. In order for him to become the player we all want him to be and what he wants to be, he has to play. Sitting in the stands and playing seven minutes on the fourth line and getting the occasional penalty kill, that's not helping him win faceoffs, that's not helping him be that energetic player that played for us in the playoffs. He's a young player, he needs to play. The biggest thing for us is to get him down there so he can get lots of minutes, he can get down there and play 15-20 minutes a night for Luke and be an important player on that team and grow and continue to grow. Are we going to have him up here again to play? Probably, but he needs to have an opportunity to find his game. Right now it's not there. Great training camp, great rookie camp, everything went good but as the season has gone on it hasn't gone as good for him and we need to allow him to become the player that he is.
On switching Karlsson's pairing:
We're trying to find some stability in his game and Chris Phillips is the most veteran player we have so we're trying to stabilize that pair and we can get them on the ice. We're just searching for people that can play together and stabilize our group so we can get a win.
On moving Wiercioch as well:
Well the young guys are having a tough time right now. We have a hard time getting the puck and moving at the right pace we need to and I think we asked Patrick to play on the right side throughout training camp and to start the season and I think that's a difficult adjustment for him so we've put him back on the left side to give him an opportunity to get his game. He might be more comfortable there and give him a better opportunity to be a better player. I think Marc Methot has played on the right side before, he's a veteran guy so he should be able to handle it a little bit. We need to have our veteran guys play like veteran guys so they can help our young fellas. So yeah, we need Marc to give Patrick a little help.
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