Sens feel Mac attack in practice
Coach works players hard in preparation for home opener
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Senators head coach Paul MacLean worked his players hard during Monday's practice. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency file photo)
OTTAWA - Paul MacLean cracked the whip Thanksgiving Monday.
With the Senators winless in their first two games, the coach put the players through a difficult 78-minute practice with plenty of skating before Tuesday’s home opener vs. the Minnesota Wild.
MacLean stopped drills to make sure players got them right, he slammed his stick on the glass to lift the intensity, and chastised Bobby Butler and Nikita Filatov when he called everybody to centre ice.
While it doesn’t look like either is going to play against Minny because of their indifferent play, Butler and Filatov were near the bench while MacLean was getting ready to explain a drill.
“What are you two doing over there? You wanna be a part of it or what?” asked MacLean.
“That was probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest practice we’ve had so far,” said centre Jason Spezza.
Since you’ve been here?
“Probably, yeah. For the forwards at least. Lots of skating.
“It was a long one,” said Spezza. “I think we set a record on the one backcheck drill there, 20 minutes or so. It’s good, though. No complaints. Guys are working hard.
“At the start of the year, you want to skate. The more you skate now, the better your feet will be come February. There’s a time and place for everything, and this is the time to have hard-working practices.
“We expect it now. I think even if we win some games, we’re going to want to still skate. And when you give up that many goals, you deserve to skate.”
Defenceman Chris Phillips said nobody is happy.
“We’re not going to sit here and accept losing,” said Phillips. “We’re
expected to win and we’ve got to turn things around.”
MacLean said he wasn’t trying to send any message.
“Practise, practise, practise, practise, practicse is a way to cure issues with your team,” said MacLean. “During the game, it’s hard to clean things up. The games belong to the players, the practices to the coaches.
“We’re going to be diligent in practice, correcting things that are necessary for us to play the game the way we envision us playing the game — which is being fast and playing 200 feet.”
Changes will be made.
Centre Peter Regin (shoulder) will return vs. the Wild and it would appear Filatov is going to be a healthy scratch, along with Butler, who didn’t play Saturday in Toronto. On defence, David Rundblad is expected to step in for Brian Lee.
Using Filatov on Spezza’s right side hasn’t worked and the young Russian has been a liability defensively. Rookie Mika Zibanejad and Colin Greening skated with Spezza. Captain Daniel Alfredsson had the flu and wasn’t on the ice.
“It’s pretty simple math. You’re only allowed to have so many. Our hands are tied that way. You can’t keep everybody, so those that are playing the best and playing well at the time are the ones that are going to play,” said MacLean.