PHOENIX — Ottawa Senators players knew their weekend performances were abysmal. They certainly weren’t afraid to admit it.
Sometimes, it’s best to just let the players tell the story. Here’s a small sampling of what has been said since Sunday’s ugly 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks:
Captain Jason Spezza: “It’s an eye-opener. When you get beat like that, you hope your confidence takes a beating.”
Defenceman Marc Methot: “We’re pretty embarrassed. We’re not responsible with the puck and we’re turning it over like crazy.”
Goaltender Craig Anderson: “It wasn’t pretty to watch. You can take losses when you play the right way and you play the way you’re supposed to and getting better, but, when you’re not getting better and you’re getting embarrassed, you cannot accept that.”
COACH HAS HIS SAY
As terrible as the weekend results were, Senators coach Paul MacLean opted to give his team a break from the ice Monday in favour of an off-ice workout. It was clearly a gamble, hoping players’ heads would clear a little.
Following the game late Sunday, MacLean couldn’t offer any positive words, beyond the state of the team’s goaltending, talking about the need to go “back to Square One.”
He also suggested the Phoenix Coyotes, Tuesday’s opponents, wouldn’t exactly be shaking in fear as they awaited the Senators’ arrival.
“They must be looking forward to us coming to town,” MacLean said.
KARLSSON CONFIDENT OF REBOUND
Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson has looked nothing like his former Norris Trophy-winning self through the opening five games. He was an ugly -3 against Anaheim and has struggled to get the puck up the ice, either through passing or skating, and has repeatedly turned the puck over in his own end.
Karlsson, however, says he’s not panicking.
“I can’t say I have ever started a season really well, or the way I’ve wanted to,” he said. “There are always things to work on and always things that you’re going to figure out during the season, and right now I’ve got figure out some small things to get my game better and make sure I’m there when the team needs me. As of right now, I have to be like everybody else and work really hard and try to find a way out of this slump.”
Karlsson said it boiled down to “trusting the system” the Senators had established in the first two seasons under MacLean.
“We’re a little bit all over the map,” he said. “We just have to slow it down a bit. We’ve got to let (teams) take shots from the outside and trust we’ll be there for rebounds. It feels like we’re a little bit scared of all the shots they’re taking.”
ANDERSON OK WITH QUICK HOOK
The first shock Sunday was how dominant the Anaheim Ducks were in the opening minutes and how the Senators had no answers.
The second shock came when MacLean opted to put Robin Lehner into the game, replacing Craig Anderson just 4:06 into the first period.
Anderson, however, understands the nature of his position and why his coach made like Mike Keenan by yanking him so early.
“It’s frustrating knowing that I couldn’t be there for the team to make the difference,” said Anderson, who faced nine shots in that span. “That’s my mentality, to be the difference maker. My job is to make sure I make the next save for the guys, to make sure that we’re in it and can kind of gather ourselves and move forward.”
Flipping goaltenders, even if the netminder isn’t to blame, is a legitimate tactic in a bid to stem the tide, Anderson said.
“There are going to be nights when you’re pulled due to the performance of yourself or the team to change the momentum of the game. They came out flying and with all the momentum and we have to do something to change the momentum.”
KLINKHAMMER POUNDS CAROLINA
The latest scoring hero for the Coyotes is Rob Klinkhammer, who played 15 games with the Senators in 2011-12.
Klinkhammer scored twice in a 5-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, giving the Coyotes wins in the final three games of their five-game road trip. The Coyotes had been outscored 10-2 in the first two games of the trip.
“It was a morgue around here,” Klinkhammer told The Associated Press. “Nobody was happy. Everybody was miserable. It turns out to be a great road trip.”
Perhaps the Senators can gain a measure of optimism from the Coyotes story.
The Senators have picked up only a single point in three games on the western portion of their trip, but if they defeat Phoenix, they would return home with three points from the four games. Coupled with a opening-night win at Buffalo and a shootout loss at Toronto, they would have six points in the six road games to start the season.
There’s also an old hockey theory that the first game at home after a long road trip is difficult one for the home team. The Coyotes will be re-adjusting to the time zone, while the Senators have been in it since Oct. 7.
However, the Senators will have to deal with the same phenomenon after returning to Ottawa for their own home opener against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.