The Senators were in a testy mood during practice yesterday at Scotiabank Place.
There weren't any punches thrown, but words were exchanged. Goaltender Ray Emery and winger Chris Neil were grumpiest grumps.
While Neil was chirping at winger Dany Heatley for a hook during a 1-on-1 drill and then winger Brian McGrattan near the end of the workout, Emery was screaming expletives at winger Patrick Eaves for getting a shot up high early in practice.
Once Emery took that shot to the mask and chewed out Eaves for it, nobody dared shoot high the rest of practice because there's no question that Emery is one of the club's toughest customers.
The Senators' coaches don't want to see the players drop the gloves in practice, but they didn't mind that the club had a spirited workout and that can't be good news for the struggling Thrashers, who will be the opposition tomorrow night at Scotiabank Place.
"We're in a situation right now where we've had three games in (17) days and it's getting kind of ridiculous," said Senators assistant Ron Low, who took coach John Paddock's place in the daily session with the media. "It was a little testy, but I don't think it was anymore than you'd expect after having to play against each other for so many days in a row."
"To a degree, as long as it doesn't boil over and get stupid or anything like that, then it's fine to me. That's hockey and its competitive senses. We haven't been able to compete with a whole lot of people over the last while ... Familiarity breeds contempt, even against your own teammates."
Neil, who acknowledged he didn't understand why Heatley hooked him, wasn't of the opinion that the practice was anything special. The rugged winger said the Senators just want to get back to playing.
"We definitely want to get back into the groove of things and get a bunch of games going here," said Neil. "We're going to get to a point where we're going to play every other day for a while."
Low said he doesn't blame the players for being bored and wanting to play, but he also pointed out that the time off has given the Senators a chance to work on things like their consistency on the power play.
Of course, there's not a lot wrong with a team that has a 9-1 record.
"We've had a chance to work on some things and that's good. It's not rocket science, but there's also only a few things that can work on and want to work on," said Low.
"You get them out of the way on Mondays and Tuesdays and then what do you do until Thursday? (The time off has) been good in the fact that there has been a couple of things that you want to try and clean up.
"You saw that last game (in New Jersey) and you wonder if we got anything done, but it's also a fact that there's so many days off. You get so many days off and then you try to step it up to that real competitive and banging each other in practice, it's hard."