Senators taking nothing for granted

As they approach their final two games before the all-star break, the Ottawa Senators are sitting comfortably with 60 points after 50 games.

LOS ANGELES — As they approach their final two games before the all-star break, the Ottawa Senators are sitting comfortably with 60 points after 50 games.
It would take a collapse of Boston Red Sox proportions for them to miss the National Hockey League playoffs.
Given recent history, it usually takes around 94 points to secure a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Therefore, the Senators would need 34 points from their final 32 regular-season games, or just a shade better than .500 hockey.
That would put the odds in their favour. To lose more than half their games coming down the stretch would make their second half as surprising as their first half.
Of course, no one thought the Red Sox would collapse over the course of September and miss the American League baseball playoffs, but they did. Funny things can happen in professional sports.
So, while the Senators are comfortable, they are not secure. Maybe it’s because they’ve been so bad over the past few seasons that they don’t take anything for granted.
“We’re not the Boston Bruins that are guaranteed to be in the playoffs, I think, with their record,” centre Jason Spezza said Sunday. “We know we still have a lot of work to do in the next 32 games. We have to play at about the same pace to make the playoffs.
“We know what we have to do, and we’re conscious of it. We’re happy with where we are, but we’re not comfortable where we are.”
Another factor is that the Senators have played more games that any of the other top-eight teams in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins and New York Rangers, for example, have four games in hand.
Having played more games inflates Ottawa’s position in the standings a bit, which the Senators do recognize, but it also puts pressure on the other teams, captain Daniel Alfredsson said.
“The good thing is that we’ve won most of our games, so that puts them on the spot,” he said. “They’re going to have to win their games to catch up.
“But there’s no way we can feel comfortable and sit back and enjoy the rest of the ride. We’re going to have to push ourselves and try to get better.”
Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks stung the Senators. They’re getting so used to winning that they’re upset when they lose, which is a good thing, Spezza said.
It just increases the incentive going into Monday night’s game here against the Kings and Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
“You try to win every game, but those games after losses are real important because there’s kind of the snowball effect if you lose a few in a row,” Spezza said. “We try to guard against losing a few in a row, and teams are trying to catch up in the standings, too, so every two points is really important.
“It’s something we try to pride ourselves on, and we have some work to do (today) to put ourselves back in that position. Good teams don’t lose too many games in a row.”

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