by Todd Anderson
If the Ottawa Senators can stretch their current winning streak to four games tomorrow against the Florida Panthers, they'll reach .500 in the standings (11-11-1) for the first time since they sported a 5-5-0 record on Oct. 28.
Senators defenceman Wade Redden, who scored in overtime last night when Ottawa defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2, said reaching the .500 mark could be a new beginning for the team this season.
"Five-hundred, for sure if we get to that point and start from scratch and get going again we can feel pretty good about that," Redden said after an optional skate in Sunrise, Fla., today. "We've had an up-and-down season thus far, and tomorrow is a big game to get to that level. Then we can start over from there."
As the Senators look at the Eastern Conference standings today, they find they are within two points of four other teams ahead of them. The club's current winning streak has put them back in the hunt against a very competitive group of teams in the conference.
"I think you always think and say: if you don't play you're best game you don't win," said assistant coach John Paddock after today's practice. "That's obviously more realistic this year. There are so many teams other than Buffalo that are all the same. There are two teams on the ice and there's not that much difference. This early in the season everybody is legitimately in a playoff-hunt, so you have to be ready for that."
Like Redden, Paddock said reaching .500 could be a boost to the club.
"I think when you're in some sort of hole like we were, there are little steps and then it becomes a bigger step," Paddock said. "I think it would be a significant change to the team whenever we get there. It's very important. Obviously, we want to win the next three and be a couple games over .500."