For the first real practice since Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Penguins, the Ottawa Senators had a bit of a different look at practice on Thursday. Part of it is due to need, while the other change is an attempt to create a little more offense.
Andre Benoit was skating along with Chris Phillips on the blue line, in the place of Eric Gryba. Gryba has not been ruled out for Friday, but was unable to practice with the team Thursday, so he will be a game time decision.
Up front, Guillaume Latendresse looks like he might draw into the spot occupied by Matt Kassian alongside Zack Smith and Chris Neil. Latendresse is a curious choice, since he didn’t do much when he was in the lineup against Montreal, and while he adds a bit more offensive upside, he doesn’t add to the speed of the physicality of the team.
Not that I think Kassian should be in the lineup still, but there are a number of options in the Black Aces group that are able to step in and add some speed along with an offensive presence. Mark Stone might not be the best skater on the planet, but I would rather have him in the lineup. Or any of Matt Puempel, Stefan Noesen, Shane Prince and Stephane DaCosta would be an option. And don’t forget about Jim O’Brien and Peter Regin, who must be chomping at the bit to get into the lineup after being out so long as a scratch.
Throwing one of those players might give the emotional boost that would help the Senators get even in the series and come home with a win, and perhaps a Jason Spezza sighting on Sunday in game 3.