Alfredsson: Senators must stay calm despite setbacks

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson did his best to try and calm the waters surrounding his team on Wednesday, but he acknowledged that the players have to pick up the pace.

Alfredsson: Senators must stay calm despite setbacks
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson did his best to try and calm the waters surrounding his team on Wednesday, but he acknowledged that the players have to pick up the pace.

“It’s easy to get caught up in everything and sometimes, especially after a long year, you kind of forget all the basics,” Alfredsson said of his team, which has lost two straight games and won only one of its past five. “But we’ve done a lot of good things to get where we are and we’ve put ourselves in a great position. Now it’s just full gas from here on in and don’t leave anything behind, because this is the best time of year.”

Even though Alfredsson wants to look ahead at Friday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, Senators fans have become a tad nervous with what’s behind them. There is growing concern that the team is losing hold on one of the eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Washington is four points behind, but has nine games remaining, compared to the Senators’ eight. *Buffalo went into Wednesday’s game against Montreal six points back. Winnipeg is eight points behind, but could close the gap when the Senators play in Winnipeg next Monday.

If teams are tied in points at season’s end, the first tie-breaker is based on regulation and shootout wins. At this point, Washington holds that edge over the Senators, but the Senators hold the advantage over Buffalo and Winnipeg.

The Senators, of course, don’t want to get distracted by watching the out-of-town scoreboard and crunching numbers. If they have a strong finish to the season, they’ll be in the playoffs.

Alfredsson recognizes that’s often easier said than done, considering they’ve scored only five goals in their past four games and the power play is in an 0-for-21 funk over the past five. The Senators lost 1-0 to New Jersey on Tuesday, following Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Toronto.

“Sometimes it’s easy to overanalyse things, and (Tuesday) was a step in the right direction, but I still think we can push ourselves a little more in terms of making sure we create more for ourselves, instead of waiting for things to happen. It seems like we’re tentative at times and not creating as much offence.”

The main reason why New Jersey shut out the Senators on Thursday was the fact they were more desperate in retrieving loose pucks around their net, preventing the Senators from getting to rebounds.

“It seemed like everybody just collapsed,” said centre Kyle Turris, who was thrust into first-line duties because Jason Spezza was sick. “I remember one time, (Alfredsson) gave me a nice pass and (Johan) Hedberg was down and I raised it and there was four guys, all within five feet of the crease. I think it hit a stick and bounced out. We’ve just got to find a way through it.”

Alfredsson believes the Senators are playing better than they were during their ugly seven-game slump — which was sandwiched around the All-Star break — but he says that experience helps because the players realize they can play their way out of a bad stretch.

“There’s not a team in the league that doesn’t go through it in a year, and that’s why some teams are outside the playoff race and some are in it, because they’ve done a better job of handling the adversities,” he said. “We’ve just got to make sure that we leave everything on the ice and don’t look back afterwards and say we should have done this and should have done that. But you can’t just leave it and not raise the questions, either. You’ve got to talk about it and be aware of your shortcomings, too.”

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