TIME FOR SENS TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS
Team hopes mountain camaraderie translates into fast start out of the gates
Back to reality.
The Senators wrapped up their visit to this mountain resort two hours from Ottawa on Tuesday with a practice at the St-Jovite Arena and then they boarded a bus for the trip back to Canadian Tire Centre, where they’ll face the Chicago Blackhawks in their National Hockey League season opener on Thursday.
If time spent together was really going to help, there was no shortage of it on this trip and Senators players should certainly be familiar with each other.
“It’s been a good couple of days,” said forward Tom Pyatt, who is heading into his third season with the Senators. “We had a lot of fun on the course (Monday), the team bonding was great, and it was just good to meet the new faces and to get to know the guys a bit better.
“There’s a lot of excitement. There’s a really good feeling we have in the room right now, and everybody is just looking forward to playing the games. Everybody just wants to forget what happened last year and just put in a good season here.”
The Senators haven’t done anything like this in a long time.
They did hold occasional team meals on the road during the season, but the last time they had any kind of retreat was in 2011, when they stopped in London, Ont., for a few days before Paul MacLean made his debut as Senators head coach against the Detroit Red Wings.
Because of all the new faces in 2018, the Senators decided this needed to be done again.
“It’s huge,” defenceman Cody Ceci said. “There’s a ton of guys that are going to be playing in their first NHL season and they’re all anxious to get out there. You can tell how excited they are. It’s cool to see for us.
“Last night at dinner, we were looking around, and even the older guys on this team aren’t that old, so we definitely have to set an example for the younger guys by coming to work every day.”
There’s no question there could be a lot of difficulties this season and the Senators need to ensure everybody is on the same page if they’re going to have any success.
Ceci, Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman and Thomas Chabot are all back on defence from last season, but minutes-muncher Erik Karlsson is gone.
Making up for his absence will be one of the Senators’ biggest challenges. They know they won’t replace Karlsson, but they have to find a way to battle through without him offensively, defensively and in his off-ice role.
“With Erik gone, there are going to have to be guys step up and handle those extra minutes,” Ceci said. “I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.”
OFF THE GLASS
The Senators did a lot of work on special teams Tuesday. It’s an area where they must improve if they’re to have any real success this season. Head coach Guy Boucher is still toying with different combinations and hasn’t made any decisions, but he has liked the performance of Mikkel Boedker, one of the players acquired from the San Jose Sharks in the Mike Hoffman trade. “He’s a really good powerplay guy and that’s one thing we knew. That’s good and we’ve got a lot of versatility with him,” Boucher said … Canada didn’t fare well in the Senators’ Ryder Cup golf tournament on Monday, losing to the World team … The Senators will be back on the ice at Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday morning.
THE LAST WORDS
The Senators will start the regular season without injured forwards Jean- Gabriel Pageau and Marian Gaborik. Gaborik had back surgery in the offseason and it’s not known if he’ll suit up this season or be forced to retire. Pageau has just started the recovery process after tearing his right Achilles tendon during fitness testing on Sept. 13 … It certainly sounds like the Senators want to prove all the naysayers wrong this season. “There’s not a ton of people that believe in us this year and we definitely have nothing to lose,” Ceci said. “We had a bad year last year and we’re definitely just looking to bounce back and have a good year this year” … Winger Max McCormick, who was injured for the early part of camp, skated on the fourth line with Pyatt and Colin White on Tuesday.