Unim­pressed with team’s com­pete level, coach puts play­ers through the ringer

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - BRUCE GAR­RIOCH bgar­rioch@post­

The Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors didn’t pay the price Satur­day night, so they paid the price Mon­day morn­ing.

That was es­sen­tially the mes­sage from coach Guy Boucher as the Sen­a­tors went through a mostly dif­fi­cult 65-minute skate at Canadian Tire Cen­tre be­fore they boarded a 70-minute flight here to take on the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins on Tues­day night at the PPG Paints Arena.

With his team com­ing off a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Satur­day at Air Canada Cen­tre, Boucher wasn’t the least bit pleased with the club’s com­pete level and much of the work was fo­cused on win­ning one-on-one bat­tles.

“I re­ally didn’t like the way we came out against Toronto. It hasn’t been a habit in the first pe­riod but that’s some­thing we’re look­ing at hav­ing guys come out hard,” said Boucher. “This is go­ing to be a very dif­fi­cult game (Tues­day), we know that, they’re a good team, they’re surg­ing and they’re smelling their usual play­off spot and their third (Stan­ley) Cup.

“We know it’s go­ing to be as hard as it gets and we cer­tainly don’t want to come out and be what we in the first pe­riod against Toronto.”

That’s why they had a hard skate.

“You al­ways try to make those mes­sages rel­e­vant and spe­cific. In the old days you would’ve come out and had a bag skate,” Boucher said. “You can get the same, and a lot bet­ter, reper­cus­sions by work­ing hard at the specifics. It was one-on-one (drills) for pretty much the whole prac­tice.

“Our one-on-ones in the first pe­riod weren’t good. We weren’t first on puck, we lost our bat­tles, we weren’t quick on re­bounds

... You make a list af­ter the game and you pre­pare for a prac­tice and make sure it’s very spe­cific.”


Pen­guins su­per­star Sid­ney Crosby, who scored the golden goal to clinch a gold medal for Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Van­cou­ver, finds it a lit­tle odd to not be taking part in the Win­ter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this year.

He said he re­mained hope­ful the play­ers would make a deal with the league to go.

“At the time you hope it all works out and you hear dif­fer­ent things,” Crosby told Pitts­burgh re­porters. “Once you find out you’re not go­ing, you’re kind of dis­ap­pointed but now that the Olympics are here, you just an­tic­i­pate the hockey start­ing and fol­low­ing like you would in the sum­mer Olympics when you’re watch­ing at home.

“I think once you start watch­ing hockey games it will kind of sink in a bit more and the com­pet­i­tive side will want to be over there com­pet­ing.”

Crosby said he en­joyed his trips to Van­cou­ver and Sochi, Rus­sia, in 2014 but didn’t an­tic­i­pate the NHL not al­low­ing its play­ers to par­tic­i­pate this year.

“You can’t take any­thing for granted,” Crosby said. “When you’re in the Olympics, you don’t know if you’re go­ing to get back there. Once you get in­volved in a cou­ple, you kind of just ex­pect it to be that way. That’s not the case right now but hope­fully that changes for the next one (in 2022).”


This will be the Sen­a­tors’ first trip back to the PPG Paints Arena since the club dropped a heart­break­ing 4-3 dou­ble- OT loss to the Pen­guins last May in Game 7 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nal. The play­off run was mem­o­rable but the win­ning goal by Chris Ku­nitz left a sour taste. “It’s a hor­ri­ble mem­ory ac­tu­ally,” Sen­a­tors winger Mark Stone said. “If any­body thinks it’s not a bad mem­ory they’re mis­taken or isn’t telling the truth on that one. Any time you lose a Game 7 in dou­ble over­time to go to the Cup fi­nal there’s go­ing to be a few mem­o­ries you don’t want to think about. But there’s also good mem­o­ries be­cause of that’s one of the best runs a lot of us have been on. It was fun while it lasted.” ... The Sen­a­tors want grit in the lineup so they re­called Max McCormick from their AHL affiliate in Belleville Mon­day.


Goal­tender Mike Con­don, who played the fi­nal 48 min­utes of the club’s loss to the Leafs Satur­day, is ex­pected to make the start for the Sen­a­tors. He had been bat­tling the flu and that’s why the Sen­a­tors got away from the al­ter­nat­ing goalie sys­tem. Con­don was tabbed for this start a while ago and Boucher just wanted to make sure he was 100 per cent be­fore con­firm­ing Con­don will play ... For­ward Nate Thom­pon will miss his fourth straight game with an undis­closed lower body in­jury. He took part in prac­tice but isn’t ready to re­turn. “I’m just try­ing to make sure that doesn’t hap­pen again and I’m not taking one step for­ward and two steps back,” Thomp­son said. He has missed 11 of the last 15 games. “We just have to be smart about it and make sure that I’m ready to go,” Thomp­son added. The Sen­a­tors could have winger Gabriel Du­mont back from a high an­kle sprain Thurs­day against the Buf­falo Sabres. He took part in the full skate with a con­tact jer­sey ... The Sen­a­tors haven’t had a lot of luck since the Pen­guins moved to the new build­ing. The Sen­a­tors are 2-8-1 at the PPG Paints Arena and they haven’t won here since April 13, 2014, when Ja­son Spezza scored the win­ner in a 4-3 shootout win.


Head coach Guy Boucher, seen ear­lier this sea­son with Matt Duchene, wasn’t pleased with the Sen­a­tors’ com­pete level in their loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Satur­day.

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