The Senators hit the ice for practice at Canadian Tire Centre today before having their standard media availability after the skate. Here's a sampling of what Senators players and coaches had to say today...
Here's what Sens head coach Paul MacLean had to say after today's practice...
He had some public skating today, just a touch of public skating. That's improvement. How close he is to practicing is still to be determined, but he did go for a skate today... If he skates again tomorrow, that would be progress, but I think he was just out to try it today and see how it goes. If it progresses he'll slowly get progressing to more and more.
On what Methot brings when he plays:
He's a veteran of 400-plus games in the National Hockey League and that brings a calming presence, much like Chris Phillips brings with his 1,000 games. We have a lot of guys who are 100 or under 200. To have those veteran people go on the ice and put fires out for us when they start up before they become forest fires is an important part of being a veteran player and helping with the structure and confidence of the group. It's a big hole for us at this point, but all we can do is keep playing the games and, when he's ready, welcome him back.
On playing Borowiecki late in Saturday's game:
The reason he's out there is he was one of the best players in the game. I thought he had a strong game without the puck and defending, he's very competitive. The competition level at that point in time in the game is very important and I thought he did that. He went out and battled at the net and boxed people out at the net and did things he needed to do, but did it under control. That's a good sign for us with Mark.
On if Borowiecki is providing more than he expected:
We're trying to keep our expectations pretty low, for a lack of a better term. We just want him to play. Playing in the National Hockey League is hard enough to do without us giving him expectations. We just want him to go out and play and if he's playing well we'll just keep playing him. We'll worry about expectations on him after 25 games or if we need to put expectations on him at any time. Right now we just want him to go on the ice and play and if you're playing good we'll keep putting you out there.
On the team managing frustration to win:
I think sticking to it has been a real thing we've done since the start of the season. The momentum swings in the game, we haven't handled those very well all the time but the other teams are good too. They don't always allow you to. That's something we're trying to work on on a daily basis. The biggest thing is the work we've done in our defensive zone has made it better for our goaltenders or easier for our goaltenders. When you do get behind the score stays the same, it doesn't get bigger. That gives the team lots of confidence knowing the game is going to stay close and if we just keep sticking to it and get back to our game and establish our game eventually things are going to happen for us.
On the Ryan-Zibanejad-Chiasson line:
We feel that right now after five games they haven't produced all the offence but it's five games. Over the course of a season they're going to take turns, people producing more offence than the other group is. Defensively, putting them on the ice, putting them in situations on the power play, eventually they're going to produce offence. At this point in time we're not upset, we think they're playing fine. Can they do things a bit better, maybe do things a bit harder just like everybody else can? Oh yeah. There's still things in their game to make them better but at this point we're not worried that they're not going to produce.
On how they complement one another:
They have to work together. Having Mika's speed through the middle is going to be very important for anyone. The Turris group doesn't play well if Turris isn't through the middle, same with the Smith group. If no one is going through the middle of the rink nobody is going to have any success. The big thing for them is somebody has to be going through the middle of the rink, it's not always going to be Mika. It's going to be Bobby sometimes and it may have to be Alex sometimes and that's just the thing of getting to know one another and sorting out who's going to go in do that.
On the chemistry of the line:
Right now with the other groups they're playing pretty well so we're hesitant to — we've been accused on numerous occasions of not being patient with the line combinations and I'm fighting that urge to change all the lines as we speak — we're going to leave it for a little bit more and see what they can do.
On if it's harder to teach at practice during a win streak:
I think we're still teaching and we're carrying over training camp and identifying parts of our game we need to work on. Today was another example of it and the forechecking aspect of our game, we feel that we could do a better job. If we do a better job there we don't have to work as much at our end. We look at our first five games — 40 shots twice, 38 shots once, 37 shots another game, one game is 30 shots. We haven't been under 30 shots in one of the five games. We can analyze the games and we can say they're easy shots or they're not scoring chances but their scoring chances are a higher number than we want them to be so those, moving forward, concern us and we have to work at our game and not just say we're 4-1, everything is going to be good. We understand there's still lots of things in our game we need to work at and become more consistent at.
Senators forward Clarke MacArthur offered his thoughts on where the team was headed after today's practice. Here's what he had to say...
On the early season success:
I think we're doing smarter things with the puck off the get-go, but that's still a work in progress. We still want to cut the shots down a bit but I feel like we've got more support overall up the middle and on the back checks and keeping shots to the outside. We're doing a better job that way.
On having fun:
Winning is always fun, we want to keep it going. We know we've got to keep working hard, every win is going to be a challenge and as much as it's fun to get out and work hard in practice and keep doing things right, we want to keep winning.
On playing Toronto:
It's always an amped up night. There are a lot of fans, a lot of Leafs fans squeak their way into the building somehow. They're rivalry games, they're always bigger games and I think going into that one we want to move our feet against them. In the past they've drawn a lot of penalties and got a lot of power plays against us. We want to limit those chances.
On managing frustration:
We've stuck with it. I'm not going to lie and say we're not getting frustrated, there's times of frustration, but overall lines have stepped up, different players have stepped up and made big plays and that's what you need. You can't have one or two lines going every night, it's going to be different lines contributing. So far we've been doing that.
On positivity being infectious:
Absolutely, you get on a roll and it's nice not having to watch a lot of video when you're doing things right. Winning, that's why we show up every day. The more guys we can get on board and keep this thing rolling, that's what we're trying to do.
Mika Zibanejad spoke to the media today after practice. Here's what he had to say...
On working with new linemates:
I've been with them for the past four or five games here. We've been off to a little bit of a slow start but you're going to go through times like this. I know I went through some of these times last year. I can't do more than just work hard and try to work back into it. I'm not too worried right now.
On the lack of production:
Bounces haven't been there, really. I could have had a couple of assists by now and maybe a goal. It's always easier said than done. You always want to get that first goal out of the way and then you don't have to worry about it but it's only five games. As long as I work hard, obviously the bounces aren't going my way right now or even for our line, but it's not something I can get hung up on and worry about too much. If I do that I'll just ground myself and make it harder for myself to come back. I've just got to stay positive and it's a new game on Wednesday so just try to do the best I can that game.
On wins helping ease the pressure:
You want to provide offence and goals for your line and we haven't really gotten to that point right now. It's a little sample right now but I feel like as long we're on the same page, and we're starting to be, we're talking a little bit at the end here, it makes it easier. I played with Bobby a little bit last year, but not too much and Chiasson is new so I think it's coming. Like I said, I can't worry too much about it because that's just going to drop me down. I've just got to stay positive and play hard and make sure it's fun out there.
On his special teams role:
It's always fun to be a part of that. It's a big part of the game and most of the games will be won on special teams. It's an honour to be able to be out there when it's 5-on-4 or 4-on-5 so I think you've just got to make the most of it.
Another week begins, another #Sens practice is underway at Canadian Tire Centre.
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