Senators remain confident despite losing skid

However the Ottawa Senators got themselves into this mess of a six-game losing streak, they’ve got to get themselves out of it before their season slips away.

Senators remain confident despite losing skid
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)

OTTAWA — However the Ottawa Senators got themselves into this mess of a six-game losing streak, they’ve got to get themselves out of it before their season slips away.

With 61 points through 55 games, they’re still in a playoff position, but their hold on it is precarious. Heading into Monday’s action, they are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of Toronto and only three up on ninth-place Washington.

Senators coach Paul MacLean doesn’t think what ails his team is much of a mystery. His team simply isn’t skating as well as it did when it was winning games.

Other teams have also seen that the Senators can be dangerous if they’re allowed to skate, and have taken steps to slow them down.

“I just think, right now, we thought we’d come out of the (all-star) break and hit the gas, and away we’d go,” MacLean said. “But it hasn’t happened that way. That’s just a quirk. Sometimes you’re playing good, sometimes you’re playing bad.

“Right now we’re not playing good. I think we’re getting better, but we have to go game by game, day by day, and try to get better.”

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said there’s no sense of panic. The Senators are secure in the knowledge that they’re a better team now than they were at the start of the year, when they were getting used to each other and to a new coach.

Still, there are some obvious shortcomings.

They’re having trouble scoring goals — just eight in their past six games — and their special-teams play has been poor.
They’ve scored just one power-play goal in 15 chances over the past six games, while giving up five goals in 22 opposition man advantage chances over the same span.

Plus, they keep making it difficult for themselves by having to play from behind, giving up the first goal in five of their past six games.

Overall, they’ve given up the first goal in 31 of 55 games and have a 12-15-4 record in those games.

“Even though we know we can come from behind, we have to be better early in games, and we have to be better as a team to do that,” Alfredsson said. “I think we’ve done a really good job throughout the year playing hard for 60 minutes. But when you’re in a situation like we are now, you need to dig a little bit deeper.

“We need to make sure we get in front of the other team’s goalie better, so we can get the point shot, get shots through.

“I think we’ve got away (from that) a little, because we were scoring goals anyway, in a different ways.

“When you’re not, you have to fall back on the basics, grind it out and make sure you don’t give up anything easy.”

That doesn’t mean they’re not confident. On the contrary, the bravado remains intact. Even as they find themselves in a neck-and-neck race with the dreaded Maple Leafs, no one has even the slightest inkling that the season is slipping away from them.

“Not at all,” Senators centre Jason Spezza said. “We still have a lot of hockey left. There’s a lot that can happen. All of a sudden you win two, three games in a row and you feel like you’re comfortable again.

“There’s going to be ups and downs. You just have to avoid long losing streaks, and that’s what we have to get ourselves out of.”

“We were lucky that we built ourselves a bit of a buffer. Now we’ve kind of brought ourselves back to the pack,” he added.

“Now it’s going to be battle night in and night out. Every game is pretty much going to be a must-win game for the rest of the year.”

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