|Dany Heatley and the Senators will settle in for an eight-game stretch of home games, starting Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes at Scotiabank Place. It's their longest homestand of the season (Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images).
Eight is surely enough for the Ottawa Senators about right now.
The Senators begin their longest homestand of the season on Tuesday night, facing off against the Carolina Hurricanes at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). It's a stretch of eight games that couldn't be coming at a better time for a team that spent much of a 10-day period away from familiar surroundings with mixed results – an encouraging five-game winning streak, followed by three straight losses.
"It's going to be good," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
said after his team's practice earlier today. "Playing some games at home, getting the crowd involved, playing some good games ... If we can put a good stretch together, it should be a great home run for us."
Head coach Cory Clouston agreed the opportunity "to sleep in our beds" for an extended period can help the cause of a 22-27-9 team that sits 12th in the Eastern Conference standings and is clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.
"We don't have the travel like we had in the last two weeks and it's just a real good time to get on track," said Clouston. "Especially with the start of our games. We've got to be really energized and not wait 15-20 minutes to get our game going."
That certainly was an issue in the Senators' past two outings against the Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens. On both occasions, Ottawa dug itself a deep 4-0 hole and couldn't recover.
"Set the tone," Clouston said when asked about solving that dilemma. "Sometimes, you can't always determine and dictate the bounces but if you're sharp right off the bat, you're not going to be two or three goals behind. You may be down one goal but you're playing better and that's the key and that's the thing we want to make sure about.
"We don't have the travel like we had in the last two weeks and it's just a real good time to get on track. Especially with the start of our games. We've got to be really energized and not wait 15-20 minutes to get our game going." - Cory Clouston
"We may give up an early goal but if we're focused, we're energized and we're prepared, that doesn't rattle us and it doesn't take another 15 minutes to get our feet under us. The next shift, we're responding."
Alfredsson believes the Senators can get an added boost from the home fans.
"They're always important, especially when you play a lot of games at home," he said. "I think we're excited about it. We think we've improved from (when they saw us) a month ago. The games we played against L.A. and Boston (in early February), the fans were really into the games and appreciated the way we played.
"Hopefully, we can use them and make the most of it."
Around the boards
Centre Mike Comrie, who rejoined the Senators in a deal Friday with the New York Islanders, believes the attacking system Clouston has installed is the right fit for this team. "It's a system that should allow the guys to play with the puck," he said. "It's a system that is built for a team like this." ... Alfredsson is wearing a special face guard to protect his fractured jaw and figures he'll need to do so for about another two weeks. "The vision down at my feet isn't 100 per cent but it doesn't impede me much," he said of the extension to his helmet ... Fewer than 3,000 tickets remain for Tuesday's game against the Hurricanes ... The rest of the homestand includes games against the San Jose Sharks (Thursday), Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday), Calgary Flames (March 3), Edmonton Oilers (March 5), Buffalo Sabres (March 7), Toronto (March 9) and Tampa Bay Lightning (March 11).