OTTAWA – With the Ottawa Senators in desperate need of some offence, Paul MacLean had little patience for mistakes during Monday’s practice.
The Senators coach could be heard shouting orders as the team worked on a number of drills focusing on driving traffic to the net.
“The biggest thing for us offensively is to get more people to the net when the puck’s going to the net,” MacLean said.
Having lost four of its last five, the Senators are desperate to find ways to spark their offence.
It doesn’t help that they have lost yet another centre as Peter Regin is out day-to-day with an upper body injury.
This is in addition to the loss of Jason Spezza, the team’s No. 1 centre, who is out indefinitely due to herniated disc surgery.
Spezza’s absence has clearly had an impact on the team’s offensive abilities.
The Senators had jumped out to a 3-1-1 record and were challenging for the lead in the Northeast Division, then Spezza went down and the team fell into a downward spiral.
In the five games with Spezza in the lineup the Senators averaged 3.2 goals-per-game; in the last seven without him they averaged 2.14. The power play has also struggled. With Spezza in the lineup the power play produced at a rate of 26.6 per cent, without him it’s at 20.8 per cent. The struggles have resulted in a 3-3-1 record without Spezza.
Adding to the Senators troubles is the fact both Kyle Turris and Milan Michalek are in the middle of a slump.
Turris hasn’t scored in his last eight games, after jumping out to a strong start with four goals in four games.
“I’ve got to come through with creating more opportunities for myself and my line mates and be more offensively productive,” said Turris. “I put more pressure on myself that anyone else puts pressure on me. I want to try and help as much as I can.”
Michalek, who has just two goals and seven points this season, has been most affected by Spezza’s absence. Last season the 28-year-old, playing alongside Spezza, had his best year since 2006 scoring 35 goals and collecting 60 points.
Despite Michalek’s struggles MacLean has no complaints.
“He just has to keep going to the net, keep getting to the net and take the puck to the net as much as he can and try to create opportunities on his own,” MacLean said. “He works so hard without the puck and with the puck that I think at some point he’s going to score and we’re not concerned.”
In an effort to jump-start his offence Maclean shuffled lines in preparation for Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Mika Zibanejad will centre a line with Michalek and Daniel Alfredsson, while Turris will play with Jakob Silfverberg and Colin Greening.
Zibanejad is looking forward to playing on the top line.
“It should be fun,” said Zibanejad. “It’s a great opportunity for me and it’s up to me to take it now.”
Since being recalled from Binghamton on Jan. 28, Zibanejad has played both the wing and at centre and on just about every line and MacLean has liked his overall effort.
“I like his size and ability to skate through the middle of the rink which I think is important,” said MacLean. “We’re not trying to have him be something he’s not, we’re just trying to have him be what he can be.”
Notes: C Peter Regin is out with an upper body injury and will be day-to-day. The injury is not connected to his previous shoulder issues. . . Guillaume Latendresse remains sidelined with whiplash and there is no immediate timetable on his return. . . Craig Anderson will get the start Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.