A good offence leads to good defence
|In his third season with the Senators, Peter Schaefer is off to a stellar start with 14 points in 15 games.|
Schaefer ready to shoot
In the middle of a drill, during Monday's Senators practice, coach Bryan Murray shouted loudly to Martin Havlat, "Don't give the puck to Peter (Schaefer) in front of net, he might have to shoot."
Everyone on the ice shared a chuckle, including Murray, but it was another nudge for the gifted forward to be a little bit more selfish offensively.
"I can say it everyday," said Murray afterwards to the media, again with a smile.
"He'll never shoot."
As candid with reporters as he is with his players, there is some validity to Murray's message. And Schaefer knows it.
"I have been just trying to get the puck to Marty and (Antoine Vermette) and get them chances to score," Schaefer said.
"I have to take it upon myself to shoot more. I have to start firing on net. That will open it up more for my linemates."
Schaefer is having a pretty impressive season with 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in the first 15 games. His career high for points in a season is 39 (2003-04). Still, as the Senators' fifth-leading scorer heading into Tuesday's game with the Carolina Hurricanes, only two other players on the team to play all 15 games had a lower shots on goal total.
Emery hot in practice
Fresh off winning his fourth straight start this season, Ray Emery turned in a pair of highlight-reel saves in practice on Monday against two of the best shooters in the league.
During a power-play drill, Emery slid post-to-post to stop captain Daniel Alfredsson with a splits save. Moments later he robbed Dany Heatley with a quick glove save. His teammates cheered both displays of top-end athleticism.
Life in the National Hockey League has been fun for Emery.
The rookie has yet to lose in the NHL, sporting a 7-0-0 record over three seasons.
This season Emery has picked up a pair of wins over both the Montreal Canadiens and the Buffalo Sabres. His latest win came on Nov. 12, with a 6-1 score over Buffalo.
"Ray played very well the other night, and it was a shame we gave up that goal late. He was square to the puck and played very well athletically all night. We're spotting him so it must be tough, but he's been focused when given the chance."
Senators ready for Hurricanes
The Senators know the Carolina Hurricanes will be ready for action Tuesday night, especially considering they are only one of two teams (the other is Philadelphia) to beat them this season.
Coming off a 9-0 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers in their last game, the Hurricanes will be hungry to regain some respect. Senators coach Bryan Murray isn't about to take Carolina lightly.
"They have some real good talent. Their goalies are very good, they have three real skilled defenceman and their forwards have lots of talent, with (Eric) Staal leading the way. They're success hasn't surprised me at all."
Forward Chris Neil says it is important for his team to keep pressuring Carolina like they do other teams.
"They have a lot of speed and skill. We have to work hard to keep them on their toes."
"We have to make sure we're all on the same page. If all our lines are scoring it's good for the team. Carolina wants to bounce back from their last game and I'm sure they'll be ready for us. Definitely we'll be ready for them."
Dominik Hasek will start in goal for Ottawa. Martin Havlat is also back in the lineup. He was suspended when Hurricanes' goaltender Martin Gerber starred in a 3-2 win over the Sens on Oct. 24.
Defence leading the way for scorers
While the Ottawa Senators continue to put up big numbers, it's often the guys on the blue line who get the ball rolling.
"The defence core is really good here," said Bryan Murray.
"They get the puck going by finding the open man in the neutral zone. They're like the quarterback in football. That makes a world of a difference."
Jason Spezza agrees the defence deserves a lot of credit in igniting a lot of the offence for the team.
"They have great first passes. Reds (Wade Redden) is probably the best in the game. For big guys, they can move the puck really well."
Daniel Alfredsson is appreciative of what the defencemen do for the team.
"Offence is what gets the headlines, but our defence and goalies have been great. They are overshadowed a bit."
Heading into Tuesday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Senators sported the best goals-against average in the league at 2.07. In five-on-five action, the Senators had only allowed 14 goals in 15 games.
Chris Phillips says it's important for everyone on the ice to contribute defensively.
"We want all five guys back to help out. In the back end, we try and take pride in shutting down other teams. We have some good speed so they are able to come back and help out."
Keeping focused at practice
While good things continue to happen to the Ottawa Senators, keeping focused at practice may be a little difficult.
Still coach Bryan Murray has done a good job in getting his players to continue working hard. As a reward, he has thrown in some fun drills from time to time as well.
"I was asked a few years ago if Glen Sather should win coach of the year for Edmonton. I said 'absolutely.' If you have a good team, it's an ordeal to keep them focused."
Mike Fisher said Murray has been masterful at keeping the players in check.
"He knows he has to keep us focused. He's doing a good job at keeping us in shape. We know we're going to get stronger. You don't get any nights off in the playoffs. We have to prepare for that all season."
Daniel Alfredsson agrees hard work in practice pays off.
"The worst thing we can do is slack off in practice. It's fun winning, and we want to keep it going."
Goaltender Dominik Hasek enjoys practice. Especially trying to shutdown his teammates.
"It's fun for me. There's always something going on, not too many stoppages. When they score on me, they make a bit of fun of me. I do the same when I stop them. We have a bit of fun in practice."