Sens head coach D.J. Smith met with the media following today's practice at Canadian Tire Centre to talk about facing the New York Islanders tomorrow, his team's productive penalty kill group and more...
Some line-up updates for tomorrow's game against the Islanders:
Everyone stays the same. (In goal), I haven't decided yet. I'm going to talk with Pierre Groulx because we don't want one guy playing too much but at the same point, Nilsson's played really well so we'll make that decision here shortly.
His thoughts on Nick Paul's play yesterday:
That's kind of what I remember from Nick Paul in Junior. He was skating all the time and because he played good defence, he got offensive opportunities and I thought that's what he did yesterday. Now he has to prove that he can do that kind of thing on a nightly basis in order for him to be effective at the NHL level.
On his line combos heading into tomorrow's game:
With Nick Paul giving me the minutes that he gave me up with that line, it allows me to play Namestnikov down with Tierney, it allows us to have (Logan) Brown and Tkachuk together and it allows us to have a lot more depth and that seemed to help us. So if Nick can keep playing at this level, then it allows me to have the most depth that we've had all season.
On his group looking "hungrier" on Wednesday night:
What I saw yesterday was some hungry players. I think Logan Brown is hungry to prove himself, I think Beaudin comes in and says "I want to stay here" and you've got guys that are here that want to keep their positions. I thought it was a really healthy and competitive group yesterday. I didn't think we played as hard as we could in the last game on the road, some guys looked too comfortable and I think part of this process is that you have to reward the guys who work the hardest and you always have to have people pushing from behind you. I thought yesterday that we worked really hard.
On getting a consistent effort out of his group:
I need to see it every night from our guys. If you miss a night every ten, it's not something you can live with but you understand it, but you can't have one good, one bad. This is a really good time for a lot of guys. Pageau gets to play a ton of minutes with these centres out, Tierney gets to play a ton of minutes on both sides of the puck so this is their chance to play all the minutes and prove they can do it. We've also got wingers that are trying to fit in and get their minutes so I really like the overall competitiveness of our group just knowing that we don't have a set #1, #2 or #3 line…everyone is fighting for minutes.
On resisting the urge to use Jean-Gabriel Pageau on the power play:
I was thinking about that yesterday. If I put him on the power play then he'd play 25 minutes a game. Not that we get a lot of power plays but if we did, he'd play 25 minutes a game and therefore it would take away his penalty killing and take away from his shutdown line. What happens is when you're on the power play, the next shift after the power play is the other team's top line so if he's on the power play, the next shift out comes Barzal say tomorrow night and I don't have Pageau to play against him. There are a lot of things that have to go into that thought, certainly he could do that role but it doesn't help our team win.
On the success of the team's penalty kill:
I think we have really competitive people and I think Jack (Capuano)'s done a really good job of explaining exactly what we want. We have four defencemen that are regularly going out there and sharing the minutes and that they know what they're doing who are ultra-competitive. Up front we've got two centes, one guy can take draws on the right and the other guy can take draws on the left, so I've found that it's been a really good combination so far this year. It's probably been the best part of our game.
On the penalty kill being more aggressive:
One of the biggest things, and not to talk about last year, but they were the worst team in the league at holding the line on the penalty kill and one of the big things for us is to disrupt the entries. We've got some forwards that can skate and put you in some bad spots. They've done a real nice job with disrupting entries and being able to put pressure on them right away. We'd like to snuff you out before you get set up, once you get set up in the NHL everyone's power play is pretty good and they're going to get chances.
On his team not drawing a lot of penalties this season:
You have to have the puck in the offensive zone more than the other team. Now in saying that, we had the puck in the O-zone yesterday more than the other team for the first time this year. The possession time was in our favour. We took bad penalties yesterday so the power plays that we got, we deserved but we gave them 3 penalties that were blatant penalties…just stick penalties, lazy penalties. It should have been an even power play/penalty kill situation yesterday so if you get 2 or 3 in a game then that's good. You shouldn't be taking 5 and you probably shouldn't be getting any more than 3 so we have to draw more by going to the net and holding on to the puck longer.
Tyler Ennis' slow start to the season:
I can tell he has a little bit of frustration. He was probably our best player at practice today and he scored the most goals and he was all over the place. He had a rejuvenated attitude today I'd say. Last year, there were probably some older players and he got an opportunity to play with Connor Brown on that fourth line a lot of nights. There's probably a little more depth on that line but in saying that he's a real streaky player so if he gets one, he'll get a bunch. It's a long season and we're only 9 games in so you look at the sample size and you say "he hasn't scored" or "he hasn't done this" but then you look after the next 10 games and he gets 5 or 6 goals. All of a sudden he's back on track so he's a guy that's proven he can score in this league and we brought him here to help with the young kids and he's done that. I suspect he'll find a way to score some goals for us.