After blowing another opportunity to make life easy for themselves on Monday – dropping a 3-1 decision to a severely undermanned Pittsburgh Penguins squad — the Senators have created the oddest of circumstances over the next few days.
Tuesday night will be one for scoreboard watching and cheering, desperately hoping the Washington Capitals defeat the hard-charging Winnipeg Jets.
A Washington win in regulation time will guarantee the Capitals top spot in the Southeast Division and the third seed in the playoffs, while keeping the Winnipeg Jets in ninth spot in the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind the Senators. Under that scenario, the Senators’ magic number to eliminate the Jets from the playoffs would be reduced to a mere two points – and Ottawa has three remaining games.
A Jets win, however, would slide the Senators out of a playoff spot altogether.
“We’re following along and we would love some help,” defenceman Chris Phillips said following Monday’s loss. “It would make things a little easier for us.”
Come Wednesday, however, the Senators will be off to Washington themselves, needing a victory re-establish countless elements in their own game: everything from confidence to more urgency in the goal scoring areas to attention to detail defensively to an improved performance in their own net.
“They were better than we were,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said after Monday’s defeat, which came on the heels of Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. “They were harder at the net, both nets, than we were and they executed way better than we did. We went backwards way too many times.”
Ultimately, the defeat boiled down to the fact the Senators buried themselves by falling behind 2-0 halfway through the first period.
“We were playing with the right intentions and we know the magnitude of these games,” said defenceman Marc Methot. “Whether we’re gripping our sticks too tight…I don’t know what it is, it just seems like we couldn’t really get any flow going in the game. Certainly a lot of that was attributed to all the (penalty) calls.
“It takes guys like myself out of the game pretty quickly when I don’t get to get out there regularly. I’m not the only one…there are a lot of guys….but we played to their game tonight. They were undermanned, offensively and we played their game tonight and that was the unfortunate part.”
Thanks to that, they’ll spend Tuesday as cheerleaders.
Senators coach Paul MacLean
–“We need more from the whole team. It’s not a whole bunch more. We just need a little more and it has to be from everybody.”
–”We were too slow, but I don’t think we were flat. We gave them a short rink to play in and that’s what they like. We did that too much all night.”
–”We can be harder at the net and make sure we get the puck to the net and what we’re missing is having somebody at the net.”
–”That competition level, that want, whatever you want to call it, it’s got to go up as the games go on and the competition level gets higher. If you don’t go with it, you get left behind.”
–”We felt we needed to do something to get some kind of change and maybe we could get a spark,” referring to his line juggling.
Goaltender Craig Anderson
–“Everybody knows we haven’t been scoring a ton of goals, but at the same time, we usually give ourselves a chance to win the game by playing strategic, hard-nosed type of game and we need to focus on that and be patient and not try to force our offence, just kind of let things happen out there.”
–”The fans gave it too him pretty good, but there are things more important than a single player and it’s a team game. There are going to be times in a game where you’re frustrated and pissed off and maybe it’s aimed towards one guy, but for the most part, we’re all professionals in here and nobody is bigger than the team and we have to do what we have to help the team and not be focussed on any individual,” referring to Matt Cooke.
Defenceman Marc Methot
–”Maybe we were caught watching a little bit, we were sitting back a little too soon, waiting to see what they do. The coach addresses everything before the game, it’s up to us to go out and do it. We were pretty flat at the start. The penalties didn’t help and that was the game.”
–”We didn’t want to play to his game tonight. I don’t think we did, but we still managed to lose the game,” referring to Matt Cooke.
–”You’re not going to win when you score one goal a game. You need to score a couple and all of us – myself included – need to contribute to that.”
5: Sergei Gonchar shots
5: Jarome Iginla shots
11: Goals scored by Tyler Kennedy in 20 career games versus Senators
21/24: Craig Anderson saves/shots
34/35: Tomas Vokoun saves/shots
23:37: Matt Niskanen ice time, most on the Penguins
25:26: Sergei Gonchar ice time, most on the Senators
11-6: Kyle Turris faceoff record
6-11: Zack Smith faceoff record