All 32 NHL teams have been on pause since December 22. As for the Ottawa Senators who last played December 18 in Philadelphia, a 4-3 overtime loss, it’s been slightly longer.
And with the announcement of Wednesday’s postponement at home versus the Boston Bruins, Senators’ players and their fans remain uncertain as to when the team will next step onto the ice to face an opponent. According to the current schedule, their next two games are at home New Year’s Eve against the Pittsburgh Penguins and in Toronto New Year’s Day.
There’s still uncertainty if the Penguins will cross the border into Canada this week. While the Maple Leafs have Covid issues of their own, with the only caveat being, many of their players should be out of proctol by Saturday.
However, the Senators did reconvene Sunday evening for a practice – minus head coach D.J. Smith and assistant coach Davis Payne who remain in Covid-19 Protocol. Associate coach Jack Capuano, who was previously in protocol when the club was originally shut down in November was absent.
One notable returnee on the ice was defensemen Erik Brannstrom. Brannstrom suffered a broken left hand on November 11 and was slated to be out for six-to-eight weeks. The 22-year old is on schedule to return to play whenever the Senators actually get back into game action.
Defenseman Erik Brannstrom is back skating with the #Sens for the first time since breaking his hand in mid-November.
First one on the ice for the first practice back after the holiday break. pic.twitter.com/onqp3oSYi1
— Claire Hanna (@clahanna) December 26, 2021
Senators’ captain Brady Tkachuk enjoyed his extended time off, especially during the holiday period.
“It was nice to get back, of course from a more extended break than usual – nice family time, something that was unexpected. I spent time with the family back home. It is definitely nice to get back here and skate with the guys,” said Tkachuk via Zoom post-practice Sunday.
But with the Senators in the midst of their best run this season, 5-3-1 in the month of December after earning only one victory in November, the team has to be to ready for all scenarios that may be tossed at them by the league.
“Everyday we just come to work. We just have to wait and see, it’s out of our control. The thing for our group is just to be ready whenever our team gets called to begin playing again. We’ll keep working, keep grinding, see what happens.” Tkachuk explained.
“We’ve got to be ready no matter what comes Wednesday. If it is doesn’t happen, at least you put in the work every day. Like I said, it’s out of our control right now. All you can control is; come to the rink and have fun and put in the hard work.”
And we now know there is no game Wednesday, players are left to ponder when they play next.
“Our motto here is after everyone gets back from Christmas, is to continue the good vibes we had before.”
Now that Tkachuk’s dream of skating for his country at the Winter Olympics is over for 2022, the St.Louis resident just wants their Senators’ 2021-22 season to get kickstarted again.
“It’s definitely a dream of yours. You want to win the Stanley Cup. You want to win a Gold medal for your country. Obviously, with how it played it out this year, it was going to be tough to try and squeak it (Olympics) in. It sucks, and hopefully down the road, it’ll be an honour to wear that US sweater. it definitely stinks, but it gives us time to focus on our team, day in and day out.”
The Senators now have seven games to make up, likely all in February – six of them home games, Nashville, Rangers, St.Louis, Carolina, and two versus Boston – and one road game in Washington.
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