A week after advancing to the Stanley Cup final, the Senators will finally pack their bags today and head to Anaheim for Game 1 against the Ducks on Monday night at the Honda Center.
Senators coach Bryan Murray admitted yesterday the long break is starting to bother the players. By the time the puck drops Monday, the Senators will have had a full eight days to prepare for the final.
"It's time to get going. It's time to get out of town. There's no question,'' Murray said yesterday. ''We'll have one more skate (today) and do that.
"But it's a little long. I've said this all along, I wish we could have started on the weekend, like (tonight). Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
''Without a doubt, after you practice every day, have your meetings and do all the talking, the players are done. They want to get going and playing. They get tired of (the coaching staff) harping at them and going at them about things. I do really think these guys are ready."
The start of the final was put off because the Honda Center was booked for three days to accommodate the Champions on Ice show.
Murray and his staff have done everything possible to keep practice interesting this week, but even they're having a tough time.
After eliminating the Sabres with a 3-2 overtime victory last Saturday in Buffalo, the Senators took the next day off. The players were back on the ice Monday, took Tuesday off, returned to practice Wednesday and scrimmaged Thursday. Yesterday, they worked on specific situations involving the Ducks.
Still, Murray said it hasn't been hard to keep his players attention now that a Stanley Cup is within reach.
"The good thing about all this is the challenge that lays ahead for us," he said. "We've gone through three rounds and we're in the Stanley Cup final. The guys, as much as they can possibly be, are focused on a daily basis.
'ALL ABOUT THE TEAM'
"I was just standing on the ice thinking that this is how teams get really good: You get late in the year, you're in the playoffs and the guys have bought in totally. There is no individual stuff anymore, it's all about the team now. That's why teams who go deep in the playoffs, their young players become better because they get the opportunity to play longer and to be in high-level competition."
Goaltender Ray Emery has tried to use the time off to his advantage. He has been on the ice daily working on specific areas of his game with Calgary-based goaltending consultant Eli Wilson. Emery is one of the few players who doesn't mind the idle time.
"A break like this is great for a goaltender. It doesn't matter what time of year it is," he said. "This gives me a chance to work on some things and stay sharp.
''We've had breaks like this in other series and I don't think this has been a bad thing for us."