Shannon aiming for bigger impact
Sens hoping diminutive forward can boost attack against Oilers
|Ryan Shannon is still looking for his first point of the 2009-10 season but he believes a change in those numbers is just around the corner (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images).
One of the Ottawa Senators' littlest guys feels like he's on the verge of much bigger things.
That's good news for both Ryan Shannon and his teammates, who face off against the Edmonton Oilers tonight at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
The 5-foot-9 Shannon is finally starting to get his feet under him after a concussion suffered in the Senators' season-opener against the New York Rangers – his second in the past calendar year – sidelined him for three games.
Shannon has yet to produce a point in nine games this season and was a healthy scratch Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. But he believes it's only a matter of time before he hits the scoresheet.
"I'm getting there," said the 26-year-old native of Darien, Conn., who'll line up tonight alongside rookie centre Peter Regin and Jonathan Cheechoo, another Sens forward still looking for his first goal of the current campaign.
"The Atlanta game (on Oct. 31), I felt really good. I'm trying to get on a roll and get my confidence back, but it's going in the right direction. If you're not doing the right things, you won't get it, so I've just got to stick with it."
Senators head coach Cory Clouston, who considers Shannon to be an important part of the team's front line, likes the signs of progress he's seen from him in recent games.
"I think he’s a lot more confident now," Clouston said after the Senators' pre-game skate earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "When you have a concussion, sometimes it takes a little longer than you realize to fully – I’m not saying physically – get over it. Even just the mental part of it, where you’re confident you can take a hit. He had one last year (as well) and I think that affected him more than he let on.
"We need him going. We need to use his speed. He’s very quick, he’s very tenacious and very skilled, so he needs to get his game going for us to be playing as well as we can."
Shannon agreed that's exactly what he needs to bring to tonight's game.
"Speed. Being very aggressive and not hesitant, and going out there and making plays," Shannon said about what he can bring to the Ottawa lineup. "The points will come if I'm doing the right things. The coaching staff has told me 'just worry about your game, don't worry about the results.'"
"We blew a two-goal lead (Saturday), so this is important," said centre Jason Spezza. "We’ve got seven of the next nine at home, so we’ve got to make the most of it here because our schedule gets a lot tougher travel-wise. It’s an important game for us."
The days in between games will also diminish but that's fine with Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who believes the busier schedule should help a team still trying to fine-tune its game.
"We haven’t played too many games, compared to other teams," said Alfredsson. "Just getting into a rhythm is (the thing) we’re looking for the most. You don’t have the three or four days in between. I don’t mind practising but the games are more fun, especially playing Canadian teams from the Western Conference. It brings a lot of excitement and a lot of fun for the players."
Around the boards
With Shannon back in the lineup, Jesse Wichester joins Shean Donovan as a healthy scratch tonight ... Pascal Leclaire (5-4-1) makes his fourth straight start in goal ... The rest of the Senators lines in practice today: Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson, Nick Foligno-Mike Fisher-Alex Kovalev and Jarkko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil ... Fewer than 2,500 tickets remain for tonight's game.