Murray weighs in on hockey woes

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

Bryan Murray's not much different than any other Canadian hockey fan.

The Senators coach has an opinion on what went wrong with Team Canada.

Of course, Murray's opinion -- based on the fact he's coached more than 1,000 games in the NHL and knows many of the people involved with Team Canada on a personal basis -- is slightly more informed than your average maple-leaf wearing supporter being talked in off the ledge.

Murray's comments yesterday after Senators practice leaned toward putting more emphasis on the preliminary-round games and establishing good habits early in the Olympic tournament.

While a lot of people seemed to think the preliminary games were nothing more than a formality (only two teams in each six-team pool were eliminated), maybe more emphasis should have been placed on coming out strong right from the start rather than the ease into it and "get better with each game approach."

Canada beat Italy and Germany, but was shut out against Switzerland when it ran into its first NHL goaltender, Martin Gerber.

"They never seemed to attack with authority or feel confident about going to the net and scoring goals," Murray said of Team Canada. "I think if they had gotten a couple (of goals) early in the tournament against a better team, they might have felt better about themselves.

"Winning develops chemistry, let's not kid ourselves. Being successful together creates an environment ... the word we use is chemistry, but it's an environment of confidence. They didn't win against good teams early in the tournament and therefore it didn't happen for them.

NEEDED 'A GREAT WIN'

"I think if they had a great win or made a great play off something they decided to do, it would have given everybody the feel that things could happen for them."

Senators defenceman Chris Phillips and forward Mike Fisher, who have both worn the Maple Leaf at the world championships, were surprised such an offensively talented team could struggle to score goals.

"It's a short tournament. If you don't have it, you don't have much time to find it," said Phillips.

"Everybody has to fit into a role and do it right away," said Fisher.

"It's something you have right away or you don't and it didn't look like they had it."

The Senators have certainly had enough wins this season to encourage that "environment of confidence," as Murray calls it, even if the wins have been harder to come by since Jan. 1 (the Senators are 10-8-2 in the new year).

Murray said he is hoping that when the Olympics are over, the Senators' focus will get back to where it was early in the season when the club got off to a 21-4 start.

"I don't think there's any question that for a period of time we had a bunch of guys that were involved in going (to the Olympics) and a number of guys who were looking forward to getting away for a period of time. Other teams can say the same thing," said Murray.

He allowed it would have been difficult for the Senators to maintain that early pace.

"You do have down cycles in a normal year, never mind in an Olympic year. We had a little bit of a swing too far the other way," he said.

"I'm hoping now, we come back and pay attention to some areas. I didn't pound away at them every day about being back in your own end and stopping. But now with 26 (games) to go, we can focus more on getting ready to have a good finish."

REDDEN HURTING: Senators D Wade Redden has a sore groin, but he had it before he left for Turin, said Murray. He passed that information along to Team Canada assistant coach Ken Hitchcock when the Senators played Hitchcock's Flyers in their last game before the break. "Wade wanted to go very badly," said Murray. "He'd been playing with a little soreness, nothing real serious, like a lot of players I'm sure did in the tournament and do in the NHL."

NOTES: W Martin Havlat has been skating and shooting, testing his surgically repaired shoulder, but needs to meet with the specialist in Ohio, probably within the next couple of weeks, before he'll get the green light to begin practising again. "I still need to get a better range of motion," Havlat said yesterday. "I tried to shoot (yesterday) and it wasn't as painful as it was two weeks ago." Havlat's goal is still to be ready for the playoffs ... With G Dominik Hasek out with a groin injury, 67's G Danny Battochio joined the Senators for practice yesterday. "They're a lot quicker and you don't know if they're going to pass or shoot," said Battochio. "But I could get used to it," he said with a smile.


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