Following today's skate in Ottawa and before taking off for tomorrow's "one and done" road trip to Columbus, Sens head coach D.J. Smith met with the media at Canadian Tire Centre to provide some insight and a few player updates prior to facing the Blue Jackets.
Some early thoughts on tomorrow's line-up against Columbus:
Boedker is going to go in for Veronneau and we'll see how Goloubef is. If he can go we're also expecting Zaitsev to arrive in Columbus so if everything works with the plane, we expect him to be back in. And we'll make the decision on the goalie here a little bit later today.
On Mikkel Boedker earning the opportunity to play against the Blue Jackets:
He works every day. It's a tough mix where we're trying to get enough young guys in, especially on that fourth line but then you watch a guy like Boedker that works every single day. Today, he was flying in practice, he hasn't taken his foot off the gas, he's a true professional and it's wrong to not give him some opportunities here and there. I think tomorrow is a "big boy" game and he's a guy that's been in the league a long time and we're looking for his experience to help us.
An update on when Erik Brannstrom might be ready to return from injury:
He's close. We just didn't want to put him through that practice today so he's going to stay home and he'll practice with us when we get back. He's probably within a week.
On seeing Scott Sabourin join the team on the ice at yesterday's skill session:
It's great. I talked to him today and he's starting to feel a lot more like himself but you don't want to pressure on him, especially in a situation like this, you just want him to heal and do it at his own pace. It is good to see him out there skating. The biggest thing about being injured is just not feeling a part of it every day with your teammates at practice and joking around and you want to get that feeling back. There's no timetable and we're certainly not going to force him after going through a real tough incident. We'll give him as much time as possible.
His thoughts on Rudolfs Balcers' hot start in Belleville:
He's doing well down there but in saying that a lot of times with those injuries, you get injured and you come back flying. Then you dip because you've missed so much time during training camp and all that so we'll let him catch his feet down there. Certainly we look at that but it's all part of the development and I think the management here has done a really good job at letting guys stay down there and continue to get better so that when they get here, they're 100% ready to go.
On the team stepping up while dealing with a number of recent injuries:
With a young group and a young organization, every time someone gets hurt, there's another guy dying to get in there for his chance. People that come up from the minors and get into the line-up are starving to stay in there so what happens is you get some healthy competition and you get some guys that don't want to come out of the line-up. For me, it means extra effort.
On his team's stamina allowing them to play hard for 60 minutes:
We're young so we should never be tired. That's the way I look at it but I think we're using out fourth line a little bit more, taking less penalties which allows us not to use the same guys over and over so we're able to roll through four lines and guys are fresher.
On the decision to go with a skill development session yesterday:
As coaches, you press your players a lot for details every single day and I think sometimes it's good to give them a day where they don't hear anything from the coach and they just get to work on their game and do it in a stress-free environment. We used to do it a little bit in Junior and I think our skills coaches, Shean Donovan runs our development program does a heck of a job, and it's good for them to get a rapport with our players while they go out there and work on their game.
On preparing to face the Blue Jackets tomorrow;
Torts' teams, and no different with what we want with our team too, are usually one of the hardest working, most physical teams in the league. They finish every check, they play hard, they play the right way so it's a great challenge for our young guys and our team to see if we can match that work ethic.