Tag: Zack Smith

Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators

Legwand out, Smith in as Sens face elimination


The Ottawa Senators will make a switch at center tonight against Montreal, as Zack Smith draws into the lineup at the expense of David Legwand, who’ll sit as a healthy scratch.

Smith, 27, missed a good chunk of time this season to a dislocated wrist and appeared in just 37 games. While he did play in the final 10 games of the regular season, he sat in all three of Ottawa’s losses to the Habs in this opening-round series.

Legwand, meanwhile, played in all three but was mostly a non-factor, going scoreless with a minus-3 rating and just one shot on goal.

Smith will skate on the fourth line between Mike Hoffman and Chris Neil, with the hope he can bring the energy displayed in past playoff performances. Smith appeared in 10 games during Ottawa’s ’13 run, scoring two points while racking up 31 PIM.

After 11-game absence, Sens get Michalek back for playoffs

Milan Michalek
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The red-hot Ottawa Senators are getting a key piece of their lineup back for the postseason.

On Monday, head coach Dave Cameron confirmed that veteran winger Milan Michalek — out since Mar. 21 with a concussion — will return from an 11-game absence and dress for Game 1 of Ottawa’s first-round series against Montreal.

Michalek, 30, had just 13 goals and 34 points in 66 games this season, but really started to find his form in February and March following a slow start to the campaign. He scored 18 points over his final 22 games of the regular season, that after scoring just seven in his first 22.

With Michalek drawing it, Zack Smith will sit for the series opener on Wednesday.

Onus now on Sens to prove MacLean was the problem

Paul MacLean

The Ottawa Senators fired Paul MacLean because he was too hard on his players.

OK, it wasn’t just that. The losses might have had something to do with it as well.

But the “too hard on his players” narrative is the main one that’s emerged since Monday’s announcement that the 2013 Jack Adams Award winner had been let go — a message that was pushed by GM Bryan Murray, who felt that “very definitely” MacLean had become “more demanding of some of the players, and more critical of some of the players.”

While MacLean has since expressed disappointment with that notion — “Did I push them too hard? At the end of the day, that must be what they’re saying….But I think it has more to do with me not winning games than anything else,” he told ESPN.com — the Senators now find themselves in the position of having to prove that the coaching change was the right move.

If, on the other hand, they don’t turn things around, you can imagine what people will say. Oh, the coach was too hard on you? Boo-hoo. Seems by the way you’re playing he was right to be.

The Sens host the Los Angeles Kings tonight, then hit the road for three games in Boston, Buffalo, and New Jersey.

Forward Zack Smith is hoping the change in bench bosses, from MacLean to Dave Cameron, might “spark” the team.

“It’s unfortunate to say — and I want to word this right — sometimes coaches are hired to be fired,” Smith told the Ottawa Citizen.

“It’s a tough job. If you’re not winning, you’re not going to be there long. When a new coach comes in, everyone’s trying to prove themselves and fight for a spot, and prove to that coach that they can play or deserve to be there. I think that might have slipped a bit over the last year-and-a-half.

“It’s not to put it on him, but that’s what happened. I don’t think guys were playing to their abilities. That’s what led to the poor start we’ve had so far.”

That’s the theory.

Will the Sens prove it?

Or, will their play debunk it?

Pageau eyes Sens’ lineup


Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau burst on the the scene as a 20-year-old with his hometown Senators during the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

Pageau scored two goals and four points in nine regular season games before adding four goals and six points in 10 playoff games as the surprising Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens in the first round.

Since then however, Pageau an Ottawa native, has just two goals in 28 NHL games and a minus-5 rating. He spent much of last season with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton.

“For sure I think after my good playoffs two years ago, expectations went really high,” Pageau told the Ottawa Sun last week. “I don’t want to say last year I had a bad year, I want to say it was a learning year. I learned that nothing is guaranteed and you always need to work for your spot. You need to deserve to be there. That’s why I’m working hard this summer to make sure if I have my chance this year I’ll catch it and stay there.”

As Don Brennan points out in his piece, it appeared there may be room for Pageau on the big club when general manager Bryan Murray dealt Jason Spezza to the Dallas Stars; however, any room at center was quickly filled by the signing of David Legwand.

Presently the Senators have Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, Legwand and Zack Smith filling center ice roles meaning Pageau, who is in the final year of his entry-level contract, will likely have to go back to the AHL and wait for a phone call.

Pageau was helped by the departure of fellow center Stephane Da Costa, who signed with the KHL’s HC CSKA Moscow this summer.

“For sure I see myself in the lineup,” Pageau said. “I always believe in myself and I’ll always believe in myself. But I know it’s going to be hard. That’s basically why I’m giving a little extra every morning … just work hard and give everything I have to make sure I do my best.

“If I go to camp and do my best, I’m sure they’ll find a way to find a spot in the lineup for me.”

Pageau says he got direction from Senators coach, Paul MacLean, on where he can improve heading into the 2014-15 season during the team’s exit interviews in April. One thing the 21-year-old does have working for him is his face-off abilities. With Spezza, the team’s top centerman gone, Pageau’s intangibles could prove worthy to the Senators if he has a stellar camp.

Related: Under Pressure: Turris, MacArthur & Ryan

Under Pressure: Turris, MacArthur & Ryan

Bobby Ryan

With the off-season departure of Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, the Ottawa Senators top line heading into the 2014-15 season will feature Kyle Turris between Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan.

The team’s best line during the 2013-14 season, the trio now has the pressure of getting it done against other team’s top checking units and shutdown defensive pairings.

With Turris leading the way netting 26 goals last season, the trio scored nearly 32 percent of the Senators goals in 2013-14.

“I think we learned a lot from last year,” Turris told NHL.com this week. “I think the previous two years before that was kind of a step forward, and I think last year was a step back. We really got to evaluate everything and it was a great lesson because we learned a lot, we took a lot out of it.”

MacArthur, who scored a career-high 24 goals and 55 points in 79 games last season while riding shotgun with Turris, signed a new five-year, $23 million contract extension on Thursday and is looking forward to a second season playing alongside Turris.

“I think Turris would click with anyone, if they want to say I’m the guy who’s good with him I’ll take it,” MacArthur told the Sens website. “He does everything well. He’s a centreman with great speed, he’s got a great shot, he sees the ice.

“As far as making things easy out there, we obviously have to keep working at it, there’s things we want to improve for sure, but he’s got a good attitude and he’s a player willing to listen to other people’s ideas.”

MacArthur, who spent three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs before joining the Senators, knows about playing under pressure.

“I think when I was in Toronto I came off of a million dollar contract and ended up taking two years at $6.5 million and that was big money for me at the time and you feel a little bit of the pressure. Just because I got a five-year deal doesn’t mean I have to change a whole lot. I want to play the same game.

“As far as what I need to do on the ice, I want to do similar to last year — obviously we want a better result — but for myself I want to try and bring a similar game every night.”

Behind the MacArthur-Turris-Ryan combo is a line likely to feature Milan Michalek, Mika Zibanejad and newcomer Alex Chiasson. Zibanejad and Chiasson have a combined 42 career NHL goals.

The Michalek-Zibanejad-Chiasson trio along with Colin Greening, David Legwand, Mark Stone, Erik Condra, Zack Smith and Chris Neil will all have to pick up the slack as Ottawa looks to return to the playoffs for the third time in four years.

The Senators finished just five points back of Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot last season with a 37-31-14 record.

The lack of goal-scoring prowess behind the first line also puts pressure on the Turris combo. Ottawa finished 11th in the NHL in goals for last season.

Ryan, 27, who scored 23 goals and 48 points in 70 games will be expected to have a bigger contribution. His first season in Ottawa was a career-worst for the forward, who averaged over 30 goals a season while with the Anaheim Ducks.

It helps that the New Jersey native is a pending unrestricted free agent and has the added motivation of playing for a contract.

MacArthur admitted he’d be having a conversation with Ryan about re-signing long term in Ottawa.

“He’s a player you want on your team,” said MacArthur. “If I can nudge him towards staying I’m definitely going to try to. He’s definitely a complement to our team.”

Murray doesn’t believe contract talks will begin until next month.

“We’ve talked to Bobby at length through his agents,” he told the Sens website. “I believe it will take until he comes to Ottawa for training camp to continue the discussions. He’s one of the next guys we’re definitely going to try to keep here.”

According to Turris, the team needs to get back to the mindset of two seasons ago, where the injury-plagued Senators surprised many by qualifying for the playoffs.

“We need to bring back that consistency and kind of getting back to our pesky ways that we were before,” Turris said. “There are lots of things that we’ve taken into account that we’re going to work on moving forward. We’ll make those corrections and be back to where we want to be this year.”

It’ll have to be a big season for Turris and Co. or else Ottawa will once again be sitting on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin.

Related: Looking to make the leap: Robin Lehner