Senators motivated to win by embarrassing losses, says Spezza

It’s a fair bet that no one who scratched out pre-season predictions would have placed the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins where they are today.

Senators motivated to win by embarrassing losses, says Spezza
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Jason Spezza #19 of the Ottawa Senators handles the puck 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)

BOSTON — It’s a fair bet that no one who scratched out pre-season predictions would have placed the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins where they are today.

The Senators, a near unanimous pick to finish in one of the bottom three slots of the Eastern Conference, are in fourth and on a six-game winning streak.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins, by contrast, have seen nothing but woe so far. They’ve lost their last three, are 2-5-0 at home and 1-2-0 on the road.

So tonight’s game here at TD Garden represents a pivotal moment for both teams. The sub-plots are enticing. Consider:

Can the Senators keep playing as well as they have, or do they let success go to their heads?

Can the Bruins turn the corner with a win and take some pressure off beleaguered coach Claude Julien?

If the Senators continue to play as well as they have, they could be one of the league’s most compelling stories this season.

Just two weeks ago, a run like the one they’re on now seemed impossible after two embarrassing losses, 7-1 to the Colorado Avalanche, and 7-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers.
But it was in those two losses, says Jason Spezza, that they found the motivation to play better.

That in itself is surprising because the Senators have shown little inclination to change their ways over the last few years.

They’ve always said the right things, usually daily, but they’ve seldom walked the talk. They’ve gone out and played just as poorly, which is why they are now in a rebuilding season with a new coach.

This time was different, says Spezza. They hadn’t just been defeated. They’d been embarrassed.

“I think they were wake-up calls for us,” he says.

“In hindsight, it was better that we lost those games 7-1 and 7-2, instead of 3-2 or 2-1, because it doesn’t allow you to think you were in the game.
“We weren’t doing things right, and when we started to do things right we were rewarded for it.”

So from where they started, to finish the month two games over .500 is a major accomplishment.

“We were pretty bad to start and pretty disappointed and no one was giving us much of a chance,” he said.

“We had higher expectations for ourselves as a team. So it means a lot to get these wins. It’s big for our confidence, and it also shows that what we’re doing is working.

“That’s even bigger than the confidence.”

THE GREENING OF GREENING: After just 24 NHL games last year and 12 this year, Colin Greening is establishing himself as the power forward the Senators have long wanted.
With four goals and four assists, he’s been one of the team’s better forwards through the first 12 games. Not bad for a long shot who was taken in the seventh round of the 2005 draft (204th overall).

He’s not only big at 6-3 and 212 pounds, he’s fast. It also helps that he’s fearless. Where a lot of players are afraid to stake a claim at the front of the net, Greening isn’t.
“I like being in front of the net,” he says. “And statistically, if you look at where most of the goals are scored, it’s within six feet of the crease, so if they want to put me there, fine.

“I’m a big body, I can screen goalies, and make it hard for them to see the puck. And when you have talented shooters like (Erik) Karlsson, (Milan) Michalek, (Jason) Spezza, and (Sergei) Gonchar, obviously they’re able to shoot around me, which is nice.

“As long as they want me in front of the net, I’ll stay there.”

DAUGAVINS BACK TO BINGO: Kaspars Daugavins was re-assigned to Binghamton Monday, where he is being evaluated for dental surgery on his wisdom teeth.

As you might imagine, that will keep him off the ice for a few days.

General manager Bryan Murray said Daugavins will return to Ottawa when he has recovered from the surgery.

SCORING CHANGE: There has been a scoring change on Ottawa’s second goal against the Rangers on Saturday. It will now go to Milan Michalek with assists to Jason Spezza and Filip Kuba. Previously, it was Spezza’s goal from Kuba and Michalek.

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