Before hitting the road for their longest trip of 2019 (5 games in 4 timezones over 10 days), Sens head coach D.J. Smith met with the media at Canadian Tire Centre following the team's practice to provide a few player updates, some line-up notes and a lot more...
Injury updates before starting their road trip tomorrow against the Wild:
It looks like both Anisimov and Namestnikov will play. Ennis was more of just a rest day because he's a little banged up but we expect him to play but we'll have guys there just in case. Anderson will be put on IR, we expect him to be back shortly thereafter so it's more precautionary. With some back-to-backs coming up and our roster situation, we've got to make sure that we have guys for this trip so Hogberg will come with us.
On Marcus Hogberg seeing some action on this trip with Anderson sidelined:
I've said this all along but this is a process to see how many guys we can get to play better and be part of the future of this group and he's certainly part of it. He's played well of late down there and he'll get his shot.
Reflecting on their 2-0 loss to the Wild earlier this season:
Well that was one of the games that we didn't have great legs. We played decent defensively, they didn't capitalize on their chances. They're one of the teams that outplayed us and they outplay a lot of teams. They don't score a ton but they're a big, strong team that doesn't give you much so we have to be prepared again for one of those games. I think Columbus, Boston and now Minnesota, these are teams that don't give you anything and you have to be prepared to play that game. With some healthy bodies, I think we'll be a little bit fresher, we can roll more bodies out there and hopefully get a little more scoring with Namestnikov and Anisimov back.
Mixing up the forward lines today at practice:
Our most stable line has been that Pageau line that we've played against top lines but with as many guys as we've got going now, I don't think you'll be able to get that match-up on the road pulling guys on and off the ice so we kind of switched it around a little bit. That 90-51-28 line was good when Anisimov was playing there the last time and I think Connor is a little bit of a spark for each line since he does a lot of the dirty work. The top line has scored goals, not in the last couple of games but I think Tkachuk, Brown and Duclair have provided good offence for us so they stay together.
On the offence scoring just once in their last two games:
When it's going in, it goes in. I think you've seen that with Pageau...everything he touched went in and then sometimes you go through spells where it doesn't. The last two losses we've out-chanced both teams, it just hasn't gone in the net. The good thing is that we're working hard, we're not giving much up, we're giving ourselves a chance in the game and eventually they'll go in. We'd like to see ourselves get to the net a little bit more to give ourselves a better chance of it going in but in saying that, to a man, this group has worked really hard.
His thoughts on Colin White playing on the wing recently:
I think White has been good and I think the only reason he's essentially on the wing, he's played the wing before, he's the centre that I think can play the wing the best. I think he's skating good, he was our best player in practice today and I think he's starting to get his confidence back. I don't think it will be long until he starts to put some points up.
On inserting White into Connor Brown's spot alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau:
Pageau's responsible and wins face-offs but I think the player that gets lost in that group is Nick Paul. Paul plays down low a lot, he's usually the tracker down low and does a lot of the work too. Both those guys help you get the puck so hopefully White can be the guy that helps put it in the net and it becomes a combination on the road that we can use.
Some final thoughts on last night's 2-1 loss to the Bruins:
Through two periods, we really didn't give them anything. I give their coach credit, he made a great change in the third period to split up Marchand and Pastrnak. That line of Pageau, Brown and Paul really commit to not giving you anything and sometimes the other lines maybe don't commit as much or maybe didn't realize that Marchand is now on a different line. All of a sudden he gets one chance and it's in the back of the net but that's why he's one of the best players in the world and can score as good as anybody.
On Max Veronneau being sent back to Belleville and the contributions they've gotten from their call-ups this season:
I thought he was good. I thought he was good in games #1 and #2, he had an off game in #3 which is why he didn't play the next night and I thought he was good again last night. I think it's just more about the numbers. A lot of these kids that have come up, and Troy Mann has done a great job at this, these kids come up and they're detailed, in shape, they work and they're giving us more options for the future. Every time we've called up a guy, he's been ready.
The Sens kick off their 5-game road trip with an afternoon start against the Wild tomorrow at 4 p.m. before Saturday's "Tkachuk Bowl" in Calgary versus the Flames. To peruse the team's full schedule, click here.