BOUCHER MAKES SENATORS PAY FOR POOR EFFORT
Unimpressed with team’s compete level, coach puts players through the ringer
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.”
KEEPING AN EYE ON TEAM CANADA
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).”
OFF THE GLASS
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.