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Consistency remains elusive for Senators

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Chris Campoli and the Senators are struggling to get their going on a regular basis, but believe they've got the talent on hand to be a solid team this season (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Consistency, it appears, is a fleeting thing for the Ottawa Senators these days.

One step forward, two steps back ... it's a dance of frustration that the team can't seem to escape. The latest case in point: after a pair of impressive back-to-back showings at the end of last week, including a 3-0 whitewashing of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Senators dropped a 4-1 decision Monday night to the Edmonton Oilers, who occupy the basement in the Western Conference.

It's confounding to everyone in the Ottawa dressing room, to say the least.

"I wish I had an answer," centre Chris Kelly said when asked about a Senators team that has lost six of its previous eight games and, at 11-13-1, sits 10th in the Eastern Conference. "(Consistency) seems to be a problem this year. We play a few good games and then we play a few bad ones. We need to figure something out."

Added defenceman Chris Campoli: "The consistency just isn't there. Good hockey teams, you know they're consistent. That's the one thing. If they lose one, they win two. Right now, we're just up and down."

Needless to say, it's a wild elevator ride that head coach Cory Clouston believes needs to end — and sooner rather than later — for his team to prosper in the standings.

"We haven’t been consistent enough and to me, that’s our biggest issue right now, getting back to being consistent," Clouston said after Senators practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "We had a very good game against Pittsburgh (a 2-1 loss on Friday), in my opinion. We should have come away with two points. We carried that momentum into the next night and came away with two points (against Toronto).

"We didn’t find that same level (Monday night), for whatever reason. That can be debated. But we didn’t find that level. It was our third game in four nights, our fifth in eight. Fatigue shouldn’t set in at this time of the year, but we’ve just got to find that consistency. When we do, we’re a good team. When we don’t, we’re average at best."

Indeed, the Senators have seen enough flashes of the potential they believe they have. While that's encouraging, the fact it isn't there every night or for a full 60 minutes is a growing concern.

"We're not where we want to be and we haven't played up to our potential, for whatever reason," said centre Mike Fisher. "We've just got to get back to playing together and being a good team. There's more (left) in the tank for players individually and when we bring more, we're going to be better as a team.

"We've shown we can be a good team against great teams. But sometimes, we can get lulled to sleep, like we have in the last week a few times. A team just kind of sits back and so do we. There's no excuse for that."

Said blueliner Chris Phillips: "We know that we do have to be better. There's periods throughout games, stretches where we've proven to ourselves that we can be a great hockey team. We just have to be more focused and prepared to do that on a consistent basis."

Around the boards

Defenceman Brian Lee, who's been a healthy scratch for 18 straight games, was placed on waivers by the Senators today. Clouston has been impressed by the way Lee has handled "a tough situation" in the last several weeks. "It hasn’t been easy for him," said Clouston. "(Lee) has worked hard, he hasn’t complained. He’s a good guy. He’s a character guy. It’s been a very tough situation for him, but I think he’s handled it with a lot of class and dignity." ... Forwards Daniel Alfredsson, Alex Kovalev and Daniel Alfredsson all took "maintenance" days off practice today, but Clouston said he expects all three to be ready for Thursday's matchup with the San Jose Sharks at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). "We're hoping they'll be able to practise tomorrow," said Clouston.

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