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From the coach: Jan. 1st, 2020

by Craig Medaglia @craigmedaglia / Ottawa Senators

Sens head coach D.J. Smith spoke with the media following today's practice at Canadian Tire Centre and shared a few injury updates and talked about preparing to host the Florida Panthers tomorrow night.

An injury update on Nikita Zaitsev who skated with the team today:

We're optimistic on Zaitsev so we'll see in the morning but he'll be back either tomorrow or the next game. One thing in the NHL, defence and centre are two of the harder positions to learn as a young guy and you need some older guys back there that can steady the game a little bit and I think Zaitsev will help with that.

 

A few updates on the other injured players:

DeMelo is still a bit away, Hainsey is probably not going to play for maybe the next week and Zaitsev is the closest. Nilsson is skating and seeing some pucks so we're optimistic there but I still think he needs a little bit more time.

 

On Ron Hainsey's timeline for a return from his injury being extended:

It didn't heal as quick as we thought but I would expect him back sometime in the next week or so.

 

On Thomas Chabot's ice-time being impacted by some veteran defenceman returning shortly:

They'll start coming down for sure as these older guys get back. His minutes will go back to more feasible numbers and something he can sustain which would be under 25 minutes a night.

 

On Chabot's contributions during the Sens' run on injuries on defence last month:

It's impressive. He skates so well that he can skate and lug those minutes without really looking that tired but in saying that, the nights he really has it going…you never know. Maybe he will play 30.

Tweet from @Senators: Starting 2020 back on the ice at @CdnTireCtr as the #Sens get set to host the Panthers tomorrow night. pic.twitter.com/XVkdBTPVzf

 

Reflecting on the team's progress as they approach the halfway point of the regular season:

Our team has played really hard, we've been very competitive but we've run into a rash of injuries here of late where we haven't played as good. We're giving up too much and one thing that we've been good at is not giving up a ton and we've given up a lot recently. I would say that we're in a really good spot for the franchise. These first 41 games, I think a lot of players have gotten to play minutes and I think a lot of guys have gotten better. If you look at Tkachuk and Chabot, they're playing important minutes, they're big pieces of this and they're continuing to get better. Our culture is very good and our players know what to expect. I think everything is trending in the right direction.

 

On tweaking his forward lines before hosting the Panthers tomorrow:

I'm hoping to spark a little bit of offence. That line over there with Barkov is as good a line as any in the league but also when you play against them, you don't get a ton of opportunities. So I think with Brady going with Duclair on that line with Tierney it will give them a little bit more of an opportunity to score.
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