Play smarter. Play harder. Oh, and bring a few goals to the rink, too.
That’s the message Ottawa Senators head coach John Paddock delivered Sunday in Montreal, as the team began preparations for Monday night’s meeting with the Canadiens at the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
Paddock was anything but pleased with Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Not so much by the result – the Senators still own a National Hockey League-best record of 15-3-0 – but by the way it came about.
“Obviously, by our record, we’ve done things right more often than we haven’t,” Paddock said after Sunday morning’s workout at the Bell Centre. “But doing things right is playing hard, too. (We had) eight turnovers at the blue line in the third period, and that cost us the game. That gave (the Leafs) eight opportunities to come back into our zone and cost us eight opportunities to go into their zone. It’s like the four-point game, it’s the same difference.
“It’s just about being focused and being ready to play. It’s not rocket science … It’s just make the right choice, make the right decision. And there weren’t enough right decisions made.”
All of that is especially important, he added, with the Canadiens next up for the Senators. The Habs are right behind Ottawa in the Northeast Division with an 11-5-3 mark, and are coming off the high of an emotional 7-4 whipping of the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.
The teams met eight days ago at Scotiabank Place, and the Senators needed a strong third-period surge to sink the Canadiens 3-1 in a game that featured playoff-like intensity at times.
“I think they’ll possibly be a little more aggressive on the forecheck than they were against us in Ottawa,” said Paddock. “They do things right, they play their positions well, that’s why they move the puck.
“The first period (of their last matchup), we weren’t ready to match their intensity and just play the game right. But as we did, we took over the game over slowly. They’re a good hockey team and you have to go out and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Paddock will hand the goaltending start to Martin Gerber for the fourth straight game. While Gerber allowed three goals on 18 shots against the Leafs, Paddock said “it’s pretty impossible to win a game when you don’t score a goal.”
“He’d probably like to have the second goal (by Toronto) back, but that’s irrelevant in the picture. He wasn’t tested a lot, but we didn’t score. He can’t score a goal from where he stands.” Notes:
Ray Emery will start in goal for the Senators on Wednesday in Buffalo ... Monday's game is available in high-definition format on Sportsnet East to Rogers, Cogeco and Bell ExpressVu customers.