Questions for Senators as trade deadline approaches

NEW YORK – By the time this long month of road games ends on Jan. 31 in Boston, the Ottawa Senators will have a pretty good idea if they’re going to be in the playoffs.
General manager Bryan Murray will also have a pretty good idea if he’s going to be a buyer or a seller by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.
He has indicated that if his team remains in a playoff position – it is sitting fifth as it heads into tonight’s game against the New York Rangers – he’ll be looking to add another forward.
That’s a need he probably wouldn’t have to fill if Peter Regin were healthy, but Regin is probably gone for the year with a shoulder injury.
Whatever Murray does, he’ll have a tricky balance to manage.
The players know that Murray will do what he thinks has to be done, and that it’d be foolish not to take advantage of an opportunity to make the team better for the playoffs.
But they also like the group they have now.
“We’re just going to keep trying to win hockey games and keep ourselves in the picture and he’ll do what he thinks he has to do,” Jason Spezza said on Wednesday, after practice here.
“That might be nothing and just let us play, and be the group that we are.
“We’re confident with the group that we have, we don’t feel like we need to add anything or subtract anything right now.
“We’d like to keep it, but if he feels he needs to add something, he’ll do that.
“He’s done a good job of using his discretion to this point. I think our team is a team that’s not just built for this year but is built for the big picture, so I think he’ll take that into consideration.”
While everyone recently has been searching for reasons to explain the success of the Senators, who were picked in many pre-season polls to finish last in the Eastern Conference, Spezza was that the chemistry that has developed among the players can’t be underestimated.
“We have great chemistry in the room and we have performed well because of it,” he said
“There are a lot of unselfish players, guys playing different roles on different nights.
“Everybody has stepped up, and that’s why we’re in a playoff spot. We’ve had contributions from everyone.
“You can look back at big goals in big games by different guys. There have been some unlikely heroes along the way, and that has a lot to do with chemistry.”
Bobby Butler is a perfect example of that. He’s had a miserable time offensively, scoring only five goals so far. But three of those goals have been game winners. Plus, he had the game winner in a shootout with the Buffalo Sabres (which doesn’t count in the official tally).
For coach Paul MacLean, to make the playoffs in his first season as the team’s head coach would be a considerable accomplishment.
But he won’t even allow himself to think about it.
“I see this team (as one) with 39 games to play,” he said.
“A lot can happen. Right now we’re all pleased with what we’ve done and how we’ve grown as a team.
“No way we’re disappointed.
“But by no means have we accomplished anything or are we anywhere near the type of team we expect to be at the end.
“We’re just a team that’s rebuilding and we’re trying to find our way and our identity.”
One of the more important, and immediate, tasks MacLean faces is to make sure his players don’t get swelled heads from their success.
They’ve won six of their last seven and are coming off a thorough 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Against the Rangers, the best team in hockey at the moment, it won’t help to be overconfident.
“We’re going to try to not have that,” he said.
“We try to prepare game-by-game and take everything day-by-day, and (this morning) we’ll start addressing the team that we’re playing and how we have to be prepared to play against them.”

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