Desolation Islanders and Notes From Practice.

After posting 3 dreadful tell tale loses to the Islanders earlier in the season, the post apocalyptic Sens finally get a chance to redeem themselves tonight at home in their final meeting of the year vs. NYI.

The debate rages over the recent improved play of the Senators vs. that of the team under Harstburg, some attributing it to the coaching change, some to the recent changes to the roster (Elliott/Gerber, Campoli/Schubert, Comrie/McAmmond), and still others point to the lack of pressure, now that the team is all but mathematically eliminated.  Well, here’s their chance to face a dreaded foe, who is also facing little or no pressure, and also having a late season renaissance performance of their own.

It is also the first chance for Campoli and Comrie to face their old squad, and although Comrie seems to have left the Island with little or no ill will, Campoli was clearly a marked man, and would no doubt love nothing more than a chance to embarrass his former coach.  Unfortunately, it looks like Comrie is still not able to go.

This brings me to practice, which I took in under the new fan appreciation initiative opening Saturday home practices to the general public.

If you’re a Sens fan, or NHL fan, do partake of this well co-ordinated, and entirely free opportunity, it is well worth the 2hrs out of your day, the kids especially seemed to enjoy it, with Spartacat on hand, and lots of give-aways.

As for the practice itself.  What stood out most was the absolute lack of defensive systems play.  Practice was ALL offense, and focused primarily on transition and puck movement.  No doubt this rosters recent dramatic improvement in goal scoring has been a direct result of this effort on the part of the coaching staff.

Clouston and Carvel had the players practicing transition break-outs, and offensive dump ins, with special focus on having the wingers go to the side of the net, and the centre driving down the middle to the front of the net for rebounds.

Richardson had the Dmen working on they’re puck movement within the defensive zone, and shooting from the point.

Lastly, Wilson spent some time with Elliott, having the winger coming at him from off angles, outside the slot, and firing shots on net.

Campoli received some extra attention, being fed one timers from the point, and Heater, as usual, also spent time working on his one timer.

It was great fun watching Alfie, Donovan, Fisher and Foligno playing keep away at neutral ice, and I was impressed with the time, and effort Auld showed in sticking around after practce to allow Winchester, Foligno, Bell and Ruutu to work on their shoot-out skills.  By the time he left the ice Auld must have faced over 100 shots!  He looked exhausted, what a pro.

Comrie skated the entire practice, spending most of his time centering Foligno and Donovan, and then working alone with Richardson on getting his legs and timing back after sitting out the last 2 with the flu bug.

Volchy did skate, but left about midway through, maintenance, and Alfie stayed on the ice until the end.

It may not be the clash of the Titans tonight, but with the games ticking away, and the post season all but the greatest of miracles, I intend to enjoy every last moment of Sens hockey remaining, knowing a long off season is likely in the wings.



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