|Captain Daniel Alfredsson and the Senators know there's still plenty to improve upon, even if they're run their winning streak to 10 games (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
What could possibly be better than a perfect 10?
The Ottawa Senators intend to do their level best to find out, starting with tonight's intriguing matchup with the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). It's also showdown between Canada's top two National Hockey League teams, with the Senators (32-21-4) having a chance to match the Canucks (34-19-2) in total points with another home-ice victory.
While Vancouver had a seven-game winning streak ended by the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday night, the Senators extended their franchise-record run of success to 10 games with a 3-2 road triumph over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday evening. It's a hot stretch that Ottawa centre Jason Spezza
believes is almost unfathomable in today's NHL.
"If you look at the parity in the league, it’s real tough to even win a couple games in a row," he said. "I think we’re even surprising ourselves a little bit, winning 10 games in a row. But we’ve just got to try to keep it going. It’s a good feeling and we just want to keep playing well."
Head coach Cory Clouston insists the Senators won't dwell on the growing number of team and individual streaks, saying the fact each win is a step toward better playoff positioning matters most of all. Ottawa has moved to within three points of Northeast Division-leading Buffalo and a shot at a top-three seeding in the Eastern Conference.
"We just worry about winning hockey games," said Clouston. "The streak gets us into a good position as far as worrying about playoffs. But we’re just preparing for today’s game as we would for any other game. We make adjustments for the opponent we’re playing, and Vancouver presents different challenges than Buffalo."
While Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson
admitted he and his teammates are "very proud" of their current run of success — it's only the sixth time a winning streak has reached double digits in the NHL since the lockout season of 2004-05 — he cautions now isn't the time for the Senators to rest on their laurels.
"In today’s NHL, you can’t sit back on what you’ve done," he said. "You’ve got to keep progressing and getting better and make sure you give yourself a chance to win every night. That’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we’re going to keep doing.
"This streak is a nice reward for a lot of work but we’re not complacent or happy, just because of the streak. We know there’s a lot of work ahead and we’re looking forward to it."
"In today’s NHL, you can’t sit back on what you’ve done. You’ve got to keep progressing and getting better and make sure you give yourself a chance to win every night. That’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we’re going to keep doing. This streak is a nice reward for a lot of work but we’re not complacent or happy, just because of the streak. We know there’s a lot of work ahead and we’re looking forward to it." - Daniel Alfredsson
Tonight's confrontation with the Canucks figures to provide another one of those tests. Vancouver's top trio of NHL scoring leader Henrik Sedin, twin brother Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows ranks among the league's most potent combinations.
"I watched when they played Montreal and they're pretty special players," said Senators goaltender Brian Elliott, who will aim for a team-record ninth straight win between the pipes tonight. "We've got to respect them when they're on the ice and try to shut them down, and I think we have the calibre of players to do that."
Added Spezza: "We watched the highlights and they've scored some pretty goals this year. We're definitely going to take note of them tonight and try not to let them beat us, because they've been beating a lot of teams lately."
The latter part of that statement also surely sums up the play of the Senators, who would consider 11 just heaven if they can keep their streak going for one more night. And this is a group that is intent in taking it one win at a time.
"Right now, we're trying not to look too far ahead," said Elliott. "We're just looking forward to playing this game tonight."Around the boards
Not wanting to mess with a winning hand, Clouston will stick with the same lineup tonight, meaning forward Shean Donovan and defenceman Alex Picard are again the healthy scratches ... Tonight's game begins a run of three games against Canadian foes for the Senators, who travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Saturday (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) before facing off against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).