Bring on the Bruins

 

Technically, the Ottawa Senators are playing their sixth consecutive road game Tuesday against the Boston Bruins. The record also shows they’ve lost three straight games in regulation, their longest stretch without registering a point since the second and third weeks of the season.

Yet the way the team was trying to spin things after coming out of the all-star break Monday, it’s all about looking ahead.

Jason Spezza actually sounded happy that the team immediately faces the Bruins, who own a 31-14-2 record and have sat at the top of the Eastern Conference standings for much of the season.

“That’s the best team in the league, so it would be nice for us to get a win,” said Spezza, who opted to practice Monday, while fellow All-Star Game participants Daniel Alfredsson, Milan Michalek and Erik Karlsson stayed away from the ice before flying to Boston. “We have a lighter load game wise (in February), so it’s important to get back on the winning track as quickly as possible.

“We’ve really got to use (February) as a good conditioning month, having some real good practices and hopefully springboard us into a good position going into March.”

Most players had a full five days off – the Senators previous game was a controversial 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last Tuesday – and coach Paul MacLean says he liked what he saw in a spirited return to practice Monday.

“Playing Boston is probably a good way to start, because you know that’s not going to be real friendly,” MacLean said. “As a rule, the expectation is that it will be a physical game and I think we will get woken up pretty quickly, if we tip toe in there.”

Craig Anderson be in the Senators net, making his 16th consecutive start. Considering his heavy workload – backup Alex Auld still has only one win this season – the break was probably more valuable to Anderson than anyone else.

“It just gets yourself mentally away from the game and you come back re-charged and re-focussed,” Anderson said of the break he spent in Florida with his family. “I really don’t get caught up in the numbers. We’ve got a lot of games at home coming up we just have to make sure we take care of business. We can’t get lackadaisical, we have to stay focussed.”

Following Tuesday’s game in Boston, the Senators play five straight and eight of the next 11 at Scotiabank Place, including visits by the New York Islanders on Friday and Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

While the Senators went into the break on a shaky note, losing to the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes – a questionable disallowed third period goal prevented the Senators from tying the game – Spezza says the post All-Star Game stretch is like a new chapter in the same season.

“Those games are behind us,” he said. “We had set the bar really high by winning the games early on on (in the road trip) and.when we looked at schedule at start of year new it would be tough part of the schedule.”

MacLean also knew it would be a tough grind when he first saw the schedule, from a conditioning and mental point of view.

Yet his message to the team Monday was that there’s no room for complacency.

“The players in practice were refreshed and looking forward to playing again,” he said. “They understand what we’ve done to this point and they also understand we haven’t accomplished anything yet. The hardest part of the season is in front of us.”

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