|Senators forward Erik Condra wants to add more scoring to his defensive presence with the team (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Erik Condra takes pride in being a reliable guy.
But along with that reputation of being Mr. Dependability — the kind of player Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean can count on in any situation — goes the thought that Condra isn't necessarily on the ice to score.
It's a perception he's working hard to change.
"My focus is to be a smart, reliable guy defensively," Condra said during a break from his summer training back home in Michigan. "What I've been working on a little bit is my strength and skating, but also stickhandling and shooting. I think I create a lot of opportunities for myself, but sometimes I have to bear down and bury it a little more."
During 2011-12, his first full season in the National Hockey League, the 26-year-old Condra produced eight goals and 25 points in 81 games. But he's also someone who notched a pair of two-goal games during his first extended callup in Ottawa at the end of the 2010-11 campaign. That same season, Condra totalled 17 goals and 47 points in 55 games for the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League.
In other words, there's a scoring touch there. It's just a matter of regaining it.
"As a reliable guy, it wouldn't be bad to gain an option of being a scoring threat and, hopefully, contribute in that way," Condra said in an interview with ottawasenators.com. "I think I can do that. It's just a matter of honing those skills and having the confidence to be in that role."
After playing an integral role in the B-Sens' drive to the American Hockey League's Calder Cup, Condra was among a group of Binghamton players who brought a youthful injection to the Ottawa lineup last season. It created a chemistry that propelled the Senators to a playoff berth that many considered unlikely at the season's outset.
"I think we sparked some youth and energy with (the team's veterans)," said Condra. "And they handed down the experience and some of their love for the game as well. So we just had a great time last year and we really clicked, and I think that's what led to some of our success last year. Our big guys stepped up and had great years and I have a feeling they're going to do the same this year."
Of course, Condra couldn't be happier that the most important veteran of them all — captain Daniel Alfredsson — has decided to return for a 17th season with the Senators.
"He's the heartbeat of this organization," said Condra. "It's great for young guys like me to play with a guy like that and skate with him and learn so many things. He's such a smart player and so skilled. We did lose a couple of guys, a couple of friends, but that's the business. And we brought some guys in who are more than capable of stepping up and taking on roles.
"I'm excited to get back and hang out with some of those guys, and get back into the swing of things and get back to playing some real games."
For the rest of our 'Friday Phone Call' conversation with Erik Condra, click here.