PITTSBURGH — If the Senators are starting to feel the pressure of a poor start, they sure weren’t showing it Sunday.
They were showing too much of everything else, mind you, just no anxiety or nervousness over their 1-3-1 record.
You females out there will be interested to know that Mike Fisher was the loser in a game of Strip Shootout held immediately following practice at the Ice Castle, in Castle Shannon, Pa. The rules? If the goalie, rookie Robin Lehner, stopped you, then you were taking off a piece of equipment.
Fisher was down to a bare chest when he was out-duelled by Erik Karlsson and Peter Regin.
“We needed to have a good time, laugh a bit, relax,” Fisher said afterward. “It was fun.”
After a blown 3-1 lead in Montreal on Saturday, the coaching staff and management have determined that a lack of teamwork is the Senators’ biggest problem. The players were delivered that message during the business part of an hour-long practice.
Only once did coach Cory Clouston have to really raise his voice.
“We just wanted to work through some of the basics, some breakouts, some regroups, just a little bit of structure ... and then just have (some fun),” he said. “You play the game because you love the game. We’ve had a tough first couple of games. We felt we got our game back on track, then all of a sudden, you think you have the game in hand, then you get away from your game plan, and instead of just relaxing and feeling confident, we still don’t have that 100% foundation we need that when things are going tough, we can fall back on that. We had the effort, but it was like the first couple of games. We were scattered and individualistic. Not cohesive like a team.”
As for getting back on the right track against the Penguins, Fisher says the Senators know what they have to do.
“This is a team that, when you get on them, press them, like you saw in the playoffs, they’re going to give us opportunities,” he said. “And I’ve got to be better on shootouts.”
THIS ’N’ THAT
The two line combinations you should expect to see the Senators go with against Pittsburgh are Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson, and the reuniting of the Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil. The other two combos were undetermined as of Sunday, based, among other things, on if everyone is healthy enough to play. The Spezza line, meanwhile, is now starting to go like a first line should. “First three games, we didn’t play good together, then we got better,” said Michalek, who now has three goals in the past two games.