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Sens find time for fine-tuning

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Practice, it's often been said, makes perfect.


But with some rare extra time on their hands between games, the Ottawa Senators will settle, at the very least, for the opportunity to do some useful fine-tuning before they face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200).

"Three days of practice (in a row), we don't normally get that," Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg said after a session at the Bell Sensplex earlier today that largely focused on special teams play. "It's a good time to work on some of those detail things that you talk about but don't really work on."

"We've got to make these three days productive and come and play Toronto and bring that same energy that we had last week into the games again. That's the key thing for us, come back against Toronto and have the same work habits and same energy in that game."

The power play, which has struggled a bit in recent games after a strong start this season, got special attention today.

"I think we have to get hungrier on the power play," said Hartsburg. "(Controlling more) loose pucks, more movement, more shots... if we can do more of that, I think we'll create more."

Added centre Jason Spezza: "Our power play started off the year real good and tailed off a little bit the last couple of games. We were just going over some things (about it) today. It's a good refresher week."

Defenceman Brendan Bell, who was summoned last week from the Senators' American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., to help in that area, knows what a difference maker that special teams component can provide.

"If you can have one of the top power plays in the league, you're generally going to be a pretty good team and difficult to beat," he said. "We've had trouble manufacturing offence lately and that's one way to get it going."

"If you can have one of the top power plays in the league, you're generally going to be a pretty good team and difficult to beat. We've had trouble manufacturing offence lately and that's one way to get it going." - Brendan Bell
The Senators could also get a boost up front in terms of personnel. Mike Fisher (knee) and Binghamton callup Ryan Shannon (concussion) both took part in the full practice session today, heightening the possibility of either or both being available to face the Leafs.

"It felt quite a bit better than yesterday and I'm quite happy with it," said Fisher. "It's feeling pretty strong. We'll see how it goes the next couple of days in practice. I'm hopeful. There is maybe a chance (to play Thursday)."

Shannon also felt positive after his full practice since suffering the concussion Nov. 13 when elbowed by Thomas Pock of the New York Islanders. 

"I think I still have to talk to the doctors (before playing). I might have to take a couple of tests first," he said. "But it's moving in the right direction. It's something I've never dealt with before and I'll have to see how each day goes."

Around the boards

Fewer than 500 tickets remain for Thursday's game. There are 3,500 tickets left for the Atlanta Thrashers' visit to Scotiabank Place on Dec. 3, while fewer than 1,000 are available on Dec. 6, when Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins make their only appearance in Ottawa this season.


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