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Senators finding 'game rhythm'

Team begins building process toward regular-season opener

Thursday, 09.24.2009 / 2:06 PM ET / Features
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Senators finding \'game rhythm\'
Centre Jason Spezza says the week ahead is critical in terms of preparation if the team hopes to get its 2009-10 season off to a strong start (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
A hectic training camp is rapidly winding toward its conclusion.

And while the Ottawa's Senators haven't quite finalized their roster, head coach Cory Clouston admits there are more than jobs on the line in his team's pre-season finale Friday night against the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., TSN2, Team 1200).

"There's always kind of a two-fold objective for games like this," Clouston said after putting his team through a brisk workout earlier today. "You're trying to get some chemistry and (better) execution, but you're also evaluating players."

Already, though, it's very apparent the Sens bench boss is casting his eyes toward the regular-season opener Oct. 3 in New York against the Rangers. With eight days between Friday night's game and the visit to Madison Square Garden, it's vital for the Senators to make the most of this game opportunity.

"I think we're a better team (than last season), but the key there is becoming a team," he said. "We're still in the process of doing that. It's still finding chemistry, it's finding line combinations and it's identifying roles. It's just finding a rhythm and we've started to do that in the last couple of games.

"There is a rhythm of a game that (makes) certain guys feel comfortable. They know that it's their time to be called upon. We've just got to find that rhythm. We're very close to doing that and, hopefully, with one more game we'll be there."

All of which makes Friday's pre-season game anything but a meaningless one, even if – officially, at least – it has no bearing on the standings.

"Tomorrow's going to be a big game," said Senators forward Nick Foligno. "We want to make sure we’re playing well. But we know that first regular-season game is going to be a big statement for us and we want to make sure we’re ready for that. We’ll be working hard the next couple of days and especially the week before that game to make sure we fine-tune everything and make sure guys are going.

"We want to make sure we start off on the right foot. Confidence helps and when you’re winning, you’re feeling good, and that’s what we want to get back in this locker room."

"We know that first regular-season game is going to be a big statement for us and we want to make sure we’re ready for that. We’ll be working hard the next couple of days and especially the week before that game to make sure we fine-tune everything and make sure guys are going. We want to make sure we start off on the right foot." - Nick Foligno
With 15 of their first 21 games scheduled for Scotiabank Place, the Senators know a strong start is paramount if they're to reclaim a playoff position in what should be a hotly contested Eastern Conference once again.

"It's an important stretch for us here," said centre Jason Spezza. "The game's important but the week of practice coming up is going to be really important, too. Cory, I'm sure, is going to do a lot of teaching, go over the systems and make sure everybody's on the same page. Then we want to get off to a really good start."

That opener in the Big Apple can't come soon enough for some.

"I think we're all looking forward to the real thing to start and just getting to play together," said goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who's expected to play his second full game of the pre-season on Friday night. "In training camp, there are so many guys around and we're just kind of looking forward to playing with our team."

Around the boards

Goaltender Mike Brodeur cleared waivers earlier today and has been assigned to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League. That leaves Leclaire and backup Brian Elliott as the only two goaltenders remaining in camp. Eight defencemen and 16 forwards, including injured Jesse Winchester (right knee), are also still on hand ... Defenceman Filip Kuba sat out practice this morning with a lower-body injury. Clouston said he probably won't play Friday against the Bruins "but he'll be ready for practice by Monday."

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STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
2 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
3 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
4 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
5 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
6 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
7 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
8 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 54 11 48 9 59
B. Ryan 53 19 26 -2 45
M. Hoffman 50 23 18 5 41
M. Stone 52 16 25 -10 41
M. Zibanejad 53 11 22 -1 33
K. Turris 48 13 17 -11 30
J. Pageau 54 13 10 6 23
Z. Smith 53 11 5 7 16
C. Ceci 47 5 11 -1 16
C. Lazar 49 5 9 0 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 22 17 4 .914 2.86
A. Hammond 3 5 2 .900 3.10