Two games does not a season make — or break.
While he's far from pressing the panic button after watching his team struggle to an 0-2 start, general manager Bryan Murray acknowledged the Ottawa Senators can't afford to dig themselves too deep a hole in the highly competitive Eastern Conference.
"A tough start is a tough start," Murray said earlier today in the wake of Saturday night's 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. "It's tough to catch up and you do have to win a lot of games. We have been a streaky team (in the past) and we certainly talked to a couple of players and the coach today about that.
"We're not asking anybody to do anything phenomenal. Just play the way you're capable of playing, play together and show respect for each other because if you get behind the 8-ball very far ... the league is pretty even and to have long runs (of wins), it's difficult."
This afternoon, the Senators practised in Arlington, Va., in preparation for Monday night's matchup with the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center (7 p.m., Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200), with head coach Cory Clouston stressing the need for working together as one.
"The effort is there, it's just competely fragmented. For whatever reason, I don't know," he said. "It's almost the way we were playing a year and a half ago, when it wasn't cohesive and it wasn't as a team. That's the only way we have success. We're going to live and die as a team and we have to attack and break out and defend as units.
"Right now, we're getting efforts, but it's individual efforts. When you play against teams that play with structure and come at you as five-man units, you have to counter that the same (way). Everything we did today (in practice), for the most part, was designed to counter that or get us back on the same page and translate that into a game."
After tomorrow night's game against the Capitals — who thumped the New Jersey Devils 7-2 on Saturday afternoon after a season-opening loss to the Atlanta Thrashers — the Senators return home to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). Murray sees an opportunity for the Senators to quickly get back on track.
"It is only two games (so far) and we have a chance, very quickly, to regroup," he said. "We're going to (face) a very difficult team tomorrow night. We know that. But we go home from there and then we're going to have a couple of days to get ready for another home game. I think if we approach tomorrow night right and we play real hard and competitive, whatever happens happens and then we'll be set up to play at home.
"I want our team to compete and I want them to play together. I want them, at the end of the game (on Monday), to say 'we worked and we played pretty well.' The score, we'll put aside. That'll be the sign I'm looking for."