Sens head coach Paul MacLean offered his thoughts on the team's opening night roster and more after practice on Monday night. Here's what he had to say...
On the difficulty of the decisions:
Every one of them was tough, I thought it was a very competitive training camp and you get down to the last couple, it was difficult, tough decisions. At the end of the day, we feel we have the right group.
On Lazar and Hoffman:
Their consistency on a daily basis, they were able to elevate their play during the game to get themselves at another plateau where we would get them back on the ice. We felt that consistently they weren't a lot better but they were better enough that we kept them.
On Lazar opening the season at centre:
It looks right now like he's on the team to start the season, whether or not that's at centre. I thought the game he played in Montreal gives us great flexibility with the way he played on the wing. I thought he had another good performance in his game so it gives us the opportunity and flexibility to play him at centre or the wing.
On Smith on the wing:
I think that Zack, we did this a little bit at the end of last season with Zack. We're trying it now to see what his comfort level is playing on the wing as opposed to centre after playing centre for a long time. It might be harder for him to play on the wing than at centre but that's what we're trying to figure out in the last few days of training camp. We'll keep working at it and see what happens on Thursday.
On the shift in intensity from pre-season to opening night:
It slowly speeds up as you go along but there are certain jumps in the level of play and the first jump in the treadmill of the NHL is the start of the regular season. When you go from training camp right into the regular season when it's all NHL players, the treadmill goes into a bigger leap. Then there's another one after the trade deadline or after Christmas there's another bit of a leap. The time you find the biggest difference in speed is right after training camp right into the season and we're going to see how well they adjust to that.
On the competition for forward spots:
Competition level or lack of it has been a big talk in our training camp along with the defensive part of our game. Any time we can create competition it's good for our team. Internal competition is the best way to get better and get more competitive.
On what Pageau needs to do to be a full-time NHLer:
He needs to keep playing and keep working at his game, he's very close. His time is going to come. Sometimes patience is the hardest thing for anyone to have — coach, manager, player in this league or even in the regular world — being patient and continuing to work for things and not get frustrated is sometimes the hardest emotion to come up with. That's what we talked to Jean-Gabriel about today. You're close, you're very close, your time is going to come, you just have to remember to stay patient and continue to work. When we call down there and need the best player we want them to say it's your name. When you get up here make sure you play well enough that we don't put you out.
On how he plans to choose his forwards:
Some of it is going to be who we're playing and another factor is how they've played previously, how their training camp went. The best players play but some guys play better against other teams and sometimes the other team's lineup is going to dictate what we're going to do. The most important thing for us in dictating the lineup is who are the 12 best guys and who are the 12 most competitive guys right now?
On how close he is to setting a lineup for Thursday:
I think how they practice today and how they practice tomorrow is going to be an important factor, but also we haven't even looked at Nashville yet. They have a new coaching staff, they have a new scheme, what's going on with them? How the play and who they have on their team might dictate changes we make to our lineup as well. Those are still things we have to consider today and tomorrow and we'll have the lineup ready for Thursday's game and go from there.
He's on IR, patience, again. It's another example of patience to get this thing going in the right direction right now. We need a little more patience, a couple more days to really make sure we turn the corner and are going in the right direction.
On Lazar as a teenager playing in the NHL:
We'll get him sunglasses I guess so he doesn't get too bug-eyed with what's being in the National Hockey League. It's a great achievement for him and he has been a good player all throughout his career. He's been able to raise his level and he has done that again. He's got good teammates that are going to keep him grounded and he's a pretty grounded kid to begin with. He's been on a high stage with the World Juniors and Memorial Cup, those are big stages to be on and he's handled all that very well. Now it's the National Hockey League. It's a different beast but it's similar in a lot of ways and we feel that with the group he has with him and his teammates he's going to be fine.
On if Lazar is in the top 12 forwards on the team right now:
He's one of the 14 forwards on the team.
On if he's happy with where the team is:
We're happy with the things we've identified in our group and the things we wanted to work on through training camp getting ready for this season we're pleased with the progress we've made, yes... We expect to be hard-working, play 200 feet and we want to play fast and we want to work real hard to get the puck back when we don't have it.