The Sens hit the ice at Bell Sensplex today as they get set to host the Tampa Bay Lightning in tomorrow's matinee at Canadian Tire Centre and following practice head coach D.J. Smith shares some thoughts on Saturday's opponent, his team's performance so far this season and more...
Facing the Lightning tomorrow:
We knew that coming into the year that 5 of the first 6 teams that we play this year are essentially Cup contenders. Every game you go in and push your team to play hard. We haven't had the results yet but having said that, I'm happy…these guys are playing hard. You want wins in this league but if we play like we did last night, we're going to end up on the right end more times than not.
On the impact the extra practices this week had leading up to last night's game:
I think in the first period was for sure but their depth takes over in time. They've got some world-class defencemen back there and some guys that can really lug the puck so I think their depth probably got us. In saying that, we stayed right with them.
Seeing improvements each game:
Everyone knows what is to be expected of them and that's to work hard every shift, don't take shifts off because we can't take it for granted and play people hard. I think if you talk to anyone from St. Louis, I think they think we played hard.
On keeping the team motivated following a tough start to the season:
This is a process. This is about being good for a long time and this is the starting point for us. Instill the work ethic every day and, as the younger kids get better and more and more of them join the line-up, they know what's to be expected, they know how hard we're going to practice and they know what kind of shape they're supposed to be in. Over time, this team is going to build and I think we're well on our way to doing it the right way and we just have to stay with it.
On getting Cody Goloubef into a game soon:
We don't want to sit him too long and certainly I've thought about that. Those guys have played hard back there too and no one really deserves to come out. You'd like to get him a game but in saying that those guys have played hard and we're going to stand pat with that defence for sure for the next game. But at some point we'll look to get him in.
An update on injured forward Rudolfs Balcers:
He's probably another 3 weeks away at least. There's still a long time before he gets back to skating but I'm looking forward to seeing him play some time this year.
On Erik Brannstrom's play to start the season:
He's smart and he makes good plays. You're going in there against one of the biggest, if not the biggest, teams in the league last night and he's boxing guys out, he's moving pucks and he's way ahead of where I thought he'd be. If you had asked me this question in June or July, I'd say it's hard to believe where he's at right now defensively. When I watched him at the rookie tournament, he was flying around, turning pucks over and he was just trying to get points. He realizes what it takes to play in the National Hockey League. He's going to have that offensive side but this kid is going to be a really good defenceman for a long time.
On not having a chance to work on the power play against the Blues:
We didn't grind probably enough offensively after the first period to earn power plays. As a coach, it's easy to say that you wished they just found one for you but you have to earn them in this league and maybe we didn't earn any so we'll have to earn them tomorrow.