Fresh off a 6-0 thrashing in Toronto Saturday evening, the short-handed Ottawa Senators took to the ice Sunday morning for an 11:30 practice minus three additional players.
While it’s unclear if Chabot and Tierney have tested positive for Covid-19 at this time, as the pair are yet to be added into protocol, their absence combined with the possible loss of Mete, leaves an already-depleted team even worse off.
With forwards Josh Norris, Nick Paul, Tyler Ennis, d-men Dillon Heatherington, Jacob Bernard-Docker, goalie Anton Forsberg all in Covid-19 Protocol and the possibility of Chabot and Tierney joining them, the Senators skated one forward short Sunday.
Connor Brown shifted from his right-wing to the centre position. Youngster Maxence Guenette recalled to the taxi squad joined the d-core along with Josh Brown who’s been out of the lineup since undergoing surgery after breaking his thumb November 22 in Colorado. Brown was not able to participate in any contact drills.
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— TSN 1200 (@TSN1200) January 2, 2022
At this juncture, the club remains scheduled to play in Seattle for their first meeting with the Kraken on January 6. The Senators are then due to open a four-game Western Canada swing next Saturday in Vancouver.
Smith is aware frustration is settling in.
“Sure, but what choice do you have. It’s unfortunate we played through November, guy in, guy out, then kind of eventually got shut down. It’s deja vu for us all over again…The good thing is if guys don’t get real bad symptoms, we’ll get all those coming back here shortly. We’ll see what happens for Seattle (Thursday), but it looks like we’ll have all those guys back for Vancouver (Saturday),” said the Senators’ head coach.
“The league is doing their best. This is unknown territory for everyone. Unfortunately, we were one of the first teams to get it. There were new protocols. Teams got shut down quicker because they see how quickly it spread. The league is doing their absolute best. It’s a tough situation.”
Unfortunately due to cross-border travel restrictions, even if Norris, Paul, and others are fully recovered from their illness and provide a negative test, there isn’t enough of a window for them to head to Seattle.
To their credit, Senators’ players have taken on a “no excuses” mentality and we’re completely disappointed in their effort versus the Maple Leafs.
“It is what it is, obviously we hadn’t played a game in a while,” added Connor Brown. “And it’s still not enough, especially down the stretch there. We left “Murr” (Matt Murray) out to dry. We had a good day at work, at practice today. We have to get our feet under us. We played good hockey in December. We can’t let that one discourage us.”
Heading into Saturday’s contest, the team held a 5-2-1 record in the past eight games.
“The vast majority of teams in the league are dealing with it right now. The noise of it is fairly eastern. You just got to control what you can control. You can’t think a little too much. It works against us. Yesterday was a learning lesson – you know “next man up” – you can only control what you can control,” explained Brown.
Austin Watson was a tad more forthcoming, “It can be (frustrating), especially late in that game last night and towards the end. We try to stay even-keeled – control your emotions, but at the same time, there’s only so much you can withstand. I think the most frustration is when you know, you have better. You know what your team is about and not doing it – that can be frustrating. You turn the page and get back to work. It’s tough sometimes, you want to move on. But as a group that’s learning to win – learning to mature and get better, you can’t just throw it away. You have to look at it, be honest about how it went down. It doesn’t matter there were no fans. It doesn’t matter kind of what it is. We’ve been taking it a day at a time the past two seasons, there’s no excuse for playing like that.”
No one is aware how the Senators’ lineup will look Monday morning as they hit the ice for yet another practice, but for the next for days at least, the team is forced to roll with the punches.
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