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Conditioning gives Senators edge

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Senators centre Jason Spezza says the rest between Round 3 and the Stanley Cup final is a benefit to his team. Photo: A. Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC

by Todd Anderson

The Ottawa Senators' quick run through the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs has given head coach Bryan Murray a healthy roster to work with in the final. Murray credits a strong strength and conditioning program and luck for the success.

"We've been healthy. I have a lot to say about that to the conditioning level, the strength coach and the people who have worked hard here to make the program what it is. It's what I consider a little bit of management and a lot of luck. That's what it will take to win."

After wrapping up the Eastern Conference championship in five games with an overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon, the team took Sunday off, practised yesterday and took another day off today. Senators centre Jason Spezza has taken advantage of the rest.

"I went to hit a few balls at the driving range lightly the other day. I walked around the market a little bit, but it's been pretty much spending time with my girlfriend. Just relaxing and trying to stay focused. It gives us a lot of time to get our tickets (for friends and family) together."

The Senators have won all three of their series in five games, which, in addition to Round 3 against the Sabres included Round 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Round 2 against the New Jersey Devils. After each round the club got close to a week to rest for the next one. Spezza says that experience will help them leading into the Cup final.

"The teams that are playing still are going to be physical. Because we've had the gaps between our series it has given the guys time to rest. We're probably healthier than a lot of teams that go to the playoff finals but everybody has little nagging injuries. We hope this week we can get rid of all that and we can go in fresh.

"We've prided ourselves all along in being a pretty good fitness team and a fairly healthy team. I think if we do encounter a long series it should favour us because of the rest we've had and the fact (the coaches) have put such an emphasis on fitness all year."

Meanwhile, Murray says part of this week should also be about enjoying the moment.

"The right way is to be at home, live the normal life, come to the arena, prepare themselves, have a real focus going forward, but also take advantage of this week. Step back and have a few minutes in the day to relax and enjoy the fact that you're going there.

"You've got to enjoy the moment. This is a great game and a great business, but a tough business. Only one team is going to win. When you do win, you've got to enjoy it."

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