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Coach MacLean post-practice - 12.6.2013

by Chris Lund / Ottawa Senators

The Sens were back on the ice at Canadian Tire Centre today after last night's game in Tampa Bay. Paul MacLean updated the media on the roster and his thoughts on the team as per usual after the skate.

Here's what he had to say...

On Cory Conacher's absence:

Maintenance…He should be available tomorrow and should play.

On the importance of Saturday:

Every game is important as you play them, the more games you play the more important they become. It's an important game, it's a home game. We need to establish some kind of traction at home and there's nothing like playing the Leafs that could bring the best out in us. We're looking forward to it.

On why they've struggled at home:

We haven't played hard enough for long enough. We've played a lot of games hard enough to be close but in this league if you're close we're also really far away. We have to play harder all the way through the game for as long as it takes. We're a work in progress when it comes to that.

On if teams can take an injured team lightly:

We certainly don't prepare our team that way and say that. We just have to look at ourselves last year at how difficult an opponent you can be just because you're missing players. I didn't think that last night — Tampa ended up winning the game, but it's not like they dominated us for the whole game. I thought in the third period they took over the game but for the first two periods things were going up and down the rinkand I thought it was a very exciting game to be around and be in. If our power play could have got us a little bit of traction it could have been a different game. I thought we played that team hard, but we need to play harder and for longer. I think that's what we've been missing from day one of the season is that willingness to play just a little bit harder.

On defensive breakdowns being the difference:

That's the game, the game can be decided in a short period of time. In our defence, in our last three games, we're starting to get — the differences in the shots are evening out over the course of the season and, as a result, over the last 4-5 games our shots and our attempts at the opposition net are much higher than the ones at our net. We're playing better without the puck, we're doing things better without the puck, we have to continue to work at that. The power play could help us get some goals, getting the lead. We still get behind and then we're chasing the game. If we could play with the lead, it's a way different game you can play with the lead than without the lead and at home getting the lead is important. I think our game is starting to come and we just have to stick with it, but we've got to do it just a little bit harder.

On room for growth:

I think we've still got a lot of growth. We've got three defencemen who have played under 100 games — Cowen just played over 100 games — so I think there's large potential for growth for them as a group. Zibanejad's growth over the first 20 games has been significant and he was a significant player on the last two games on the road trip back playing centre ice. I think there's still room for growth on our team. Kyle Turris is still a young player that's growing, Bobby Ryan as well, we feel that we still have growth in our team. But, again, if we don't play harder, longer we're not going to see that growth either. It's just going to take longer.

On where the urgency went:

That's a good question. If I had that answer I would have used it 28 games ago. I think it's part of the process of every year the team is different. We're having a shift in our leadership group, we've had a shift in some of the personnel in our team and you don't anticipate those things taking a long, long time. We've had a shift in our blueline with the three younger guys coming in and not having the success we anticipated they would have. Those are factors in not having that edge you're talking about that we've missed, but we're starting to find it again. We need to find it right away, but we're starting to find it.

On tomorrow's goalie:

Craig Anderson

On using Zibanejad going forward:

Well I think the time that he has spent as a winger has been good for him. We talked to him before we put him back at centre with the moves we made last week and he was comfortable that he had played enough on the wing and he could come and not have an issue playing centre and not have an issue going back to playing right wing if he had to. That was a good indication from us in part of his growth as a player is that he can be switching positions, which is a great sign. He's still a support player for us, but his game is really starting to come. He's using his speed, using his size and his shot and we're going to continue to encourage him to do that.

On taking things away from the earlier Toronto game:

Well that was the second game of the year, wasn't it? A lot has happened since then for them and for us. I've seen them play on TV a couple of times, I haven't seen the pre-scout just yet but knowing Randy (Carlyle) they're not going to change a whole lot of what they do. They're going to come and play hard and it's going to be physical and we'll have to be ready.

On if he'll consider Kassian vs. Toronto:

I wouldn't debate it at all. If we feel we need him to play in the lineup he'll be in the lineup for sure if that's the decision we come to.

On if they need less of an enforcer element this season:

I think it has kind of been the schedule maker — I think we still have a need for it, yes, but sometimes the opponent doesn't always call for it. That has been part of the issue for it and the other part of it is trying to find some traction in our game with our group and trying to stick to a group that has had some success is the issue for Matt. I would expect that now that we have the Leafs and Flyers and Buffalo coming to town, those certainly sound like teams that Matt Kassian can play against.

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