It’s a delicate dance that’s going on, this shuffle Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean is doing with his top two lines.
On Tuesday, he stuck with the combinations that got the team a 4-3 overtime win in Phoenix: Jason Spezza between Milan Michalek and Cory Conacher, with Kyle Turris between Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan.
MacLean likes that these lines made the team more dangerous offensively, and so he’ll stick with them. For now. But Thursday’s game was only No. 7 of 82.
For Conacher, it was his first trip to the west coast, so he had trouble adjusting to the time change, but playing with Spezza and Michalek was a nice confidence boost.
“I know my role on the line,” he said. “I just want to be the guy who’s first on puck and makes it a little easier for them to play, because when it’s easier for them to play, they know how to score hat tricks.”
Whether the line is something that sticks, he doesn’t know.
He’d like to stay where he is, but he knows that he’ll have to be a lot more consistent.
“It’s hard to make the NHL, and it’s harder to stay, so it’s going to be important for me to do the little things on and off the ice to be a consistent player: Eat well, do stretches before and after games when I have to, and just continue to stay confident, because when you’re a confident player out there, things will go your way eventually.”
Ryan knows there will be a transition period to get used to the different styles.
“(Turris) is a little more a give-and-go type of guy, he skates off the puck a little bit differently, and (Spezza) is much more of a possession guy and likes to kind of create off the cycle,” he said.
DA COSTA WAIVED
He had a great training camp that earned him a spot on the team, but in four regular-season games, Stephane Da Costa couldn’t match that success.
As a result, he was placed on waivers Thursday. If and when he clears and is sent to Binghamton, a roster spot will open, presumably for Mika Zibanejad, who will get his chance to show that the lousy training camp he had is not a true reflection of his skill.
Da Costa averaged 11:27 of ice time and had eight shots, but none of them translated into either a goal or an assist.
Last season in Binghamton, he tied for the team scoring lead with 13 goals and 25 assists in 57 games.
He’ll now get a chance to rediscover his scoring touch.
Also on the hot seat, but so far still in the lineup, is centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has had one goal in four games but is only 30.5 per cent in the faceoff circle. His ice-time average has been 10:20.