Focus is on staying sharp

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

It's Stanley Cup week in Ottawa and to some that's being perceived as a problem.

As in that week there will be at least an eight-day break before the Senators play Game 1 of the final in Anaheim or Detroit.

The word yesterday was that if Anaheim hosts the first game, it will be played Monday. If it's in Detroit, it will go next Tuesday.

Either way, the Senators face a long layoff, sparking concerns about how they will stay sharp.

"We've won every series in these playoffs in five games, so we've had some (long) layoffs anyway," centre Jason Spezza said yesterday following the team's 45-minute workout at Scotiabank Place. "If anything, we're getting used to it.

"The coaches are doing a good job making sure the practices are up-tempo. We're going to have a few lighter days and a few harder days. I don't foresee this break as a problem."

The Senators plan to make the most of their time off.

Coach Bryan Murray is considering holding a practice Thursday followed by a scrimmage that night to simulate a game situation.

'TASK AT HAND'

"We want them to be alert and to be aware and to continue to focus on the task at hand," said Murray. "When you get time off, there's some real good things that happen with it because you get rested and get the mental pressure taken away for a few days on the part of our players.

"Fitness-wise, we'll be in good order."

The players aren't worried about becoming rusty -- after all, playing in a Stanley Cup final has been a life-long goal.

"We've handled it well up until now and we've had to deal with (a long layoff) every round," defenceman Wade Redden said. "Practice is where we've got to stay sharp and we'll be focused on that.

''We know what's at stake here and we're going to do everything we can to get through this week."

Senators goalie Ray Emery doesn't mind the break.

"I'm not getting antsy at all," he said. "It's a nice time of year to chill out on patios, hang out with your buddies and kind of get everything set up as far as tickets (for family and friends) are concerned.

''You don't want to have those distractions when the time comes."


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