A Matter of Time for the Senators
The old saying “Better late than never” worked in favour of the Montreal Canadians Saturday but for two Ottawa Senators players the message from new coach Guy Boucher was pretty clear: don’t be late at all.
Defenceman Cody Ceci and right winger Bobby Ryan had a pretty good view when the Canadians Paul Byron slipped the puck by Andrew Hammond within 37 seconds of the opening face-off. Ceci and Ryan, who arrived late for a meeting earlier in the day, had been benched for the first time in as long as they could remember. The point was hammered home early in the season: Boucher will have no problem doling out consequences and rules will be strongly enforced with very little leeway.
“It’s pretty simple: you’re on time or you’re not on time,” Boucher told reporters after the Sens 3-2 overtime loss to the Canadians. “I talked to the players and we addressed it internally the way we’re supposed to address it.”
“We were late and we paid the price,” Ryan said. Ceci agreed and both players would eventually get to hit the ice for some shifts in the second and third.
“We let down teammates…we have to check the schedule. There’s new times, new coaches, so we’ve got to get used to that,” Ceci added.
Timing, unfortunately, was not working for the rest of the team either as, along with the early goal, the Habs bookended it with one in the final seconds of the game driving some momentum into overtime where, in only 46 seconds, Phillip Danault put away the winner for the Canadians.
It was an arena divided for this pre-season game with just as many united in white as they were in red. For Sens fans, however, teamwork was the focus they feel Boucher needs to work on this season.
“They need to work in building the team, as a team, not just functioning as individual players,” said long-time fan Kate Kerr before the game, a statement echoed by others as they filled into the Canadian Tire Centre.
“They need to play together and have chemistry,” said Kinni Duquette. “I think they have to develop more of a relationship on the ice together.”
Still, there were signs of that as the team didn’t let the early goal and rocky first period trip them up too much. A short brawl to end the first period between Montreal’s Bobby Farnham and Ottawa’s Ryan Dzingel perked up the mostly silent Senators fans and showed the team wasn’t going down without a fight. They rallied in the second with an early period goal of their own when Mike Hoffman slipped it by Al Montoya in just under a minute and a half. A Kyle Turruis falling backhander a few minutes later finally put the Sens in the lead and those in red on their feet in what would be the loudest crowd eruption of the afternoon.
“I love the Sens. I’ve seen a lot of hockey games live and I’m just really excited to see the Senators play,” said an elated nine-year-old Aiden Brennan.
Watching that time tick by in the third, it looked like the Sens had the game wrapped but it only took a few seconds to turn tide in favor of the Habs. Despite the loss, Boucher remains hopeful for the coming season and said this pre-season game shouldn’t be a reflection of what the team can do once the regular season kicks off on October 12 against the Maple Leafs.
“We’re looking at these games. We’re not looking at scores, I’ll be honest. Whether we win 6-1 or we lose. We’re looking at every individual facet of the game,” said Boucher. “The things we’ve focused on we got better at.”