|Mike Fisher saw plenty of the right signs from the Senators on Monday night during their 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals at the Verizon Centre in Washington (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
In the dog days of January, it might be seen as just another bump in the road.
So the Ottawa Senators, who rode the veritable rollercoaster at times during the 2009-10 season, aren't about to think the sky is falling just because they're still looking for a victory three games into the current campaign. No matter what anyone around them might think.
But rest assured, the Senators (0-2-1) want to take the soonest opportunity to erase the goose egg in the "W" column beside their name in the current National Hockey League standings. Their next chance comes Thursday, when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). But don't expect anyone in the Senators camp to use the phrase "must win" to describe what is only the fourth game of the season.
"No one wants to be losing that many games in a row and I think it’s been overanalyzed to a point," Senators forward Nick Foligno
said following the team's practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "We’re not worried in this locker room, we’re not panicking. We know we’re a good hockey team and we showed that against Washington (a 3-2 overtime loss Monday).
"A bad bounce and we didn’t get a win but you know what, we play games like that and we’re going to find ourselves winning a lot of games this year. We know what we’re capable of and the first three games, we weren’t in sync and we had to find ourselves. We did that the last game against Washington, we’re going to build off that and I think you’re going to see a lot better performances out of us."
Or, as centre Jason Spezza
suggested, "it’s three games. Let’s not get too carried away."
Most likely, the Senators will have captain Daniel Alfredsson
in the lineup to try to get that first win tomorrow night. Alfredsson, who didn't see action in the overtime period of Monday's road loss to the Capitals because of a lower-body injury, said today that he'll likely be good to go against the Canes.
"I felt a little soreness in one of my muscles," Alfredsson said in explaining his early departure from the action Monday. "Just precautionary. It was nothing serious at all and I should be ready again tomorrow ... It was a concern at the time, no question. But I've been rehabbing and getting good treatment the last couple of days.
"A bad bounce and we didn’t get a win but you know what, we play games like that and we’re going to find ourselves winning a lot of games this year. We know what we’re capable of and the first three games, we weren’t in sync and we had to find ourselves. We did that the last game against Washington, we’re going to build off that and I think you’re going to see a lot better performances out of us." - Nick Foligno
"If I skate tomorrow morning, the way I feel now, I should be fine."
That about sums up the Senators' sentiments about a three-game winless streak that they're confident can be quickly reversed with more of the kind of play they showed Monday in Washington. Look no further than last January for proof of that. Just when it seemed their playoff hopes might be fading when mired in a five-game losing streak, the Senators turned the tide and ran off a franchise record 11 straight victories.
"We know we have a good team," said goaltender Pascal Leclaire. "I think a lot of people pushed the panic button after the first couple of games, but these things happen. Every team goes through rough patches and they might happen again during the season. It’s how you get out of them (that matters)."
Said head coach Cory Clouston: "Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. But (we were) one shot away. We had 17 chances (against the Caps). You should score more than two goals on 17 chances ... (But) I thought our effort was excellent."
Centre Mike Fisher saw plenty of the right signs Monday in Washington, even if the Senators' best effort of the season by far only got them a single point in the standings.
"We looked like a team, we looked hungry and we played together," said Fisher. "We moved the puck better and we did all the things we need to do ... For whatever reason, we didn’t come to play in the first two games. That’s a lesson, that if we’re not ready to play, we’re not going to beat anyone. There are no easy games and we’ve got to get that into our heads.
"We went through stretches last year where we played really bad for long periods. And then we played unbelievable for long periods, too. So we want to get on that roll now and start getting some points."
But while it's still early, the Senators also know that digging too deep a hole now could prove problematic later on if they're forced to play a major game of catch-up.
"The big thing is, you don’t want to fall too far behind," said Leclaire. "You want to stay close to the pack and that’s the most important thing (for us) to do. If we can do that, we’ll be in good shape and I don’t see any reason why we won’t do it."Around the boards
Clouston said goaltender Brian Elliott will get his first start of the season either Thursday night at the Hurricanes or Saturday night in Montreal, where the Senators start a two-game road trip against the Canadiens (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) ... Spezza on Pascal Leclaire's play in goal so far this season: "Pazzy’s been our best player for the first three games and we’ve got to play a little better in front of him and get him some run support." ... There are 4,500 tickets
available for Thursday's game against the Hurricanes. It's also a Metro Family Night, with fans able to score four tickets, four hotdogs and four drinks, starting from $99.