|Veteran defenceman David Hale has been recalled from the AHL's Binghamton Senators and will rejoin his Ottawa teammates in time for Friday's game in Buffalo (Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photography/OSHC).
All around them, the Ottawa Senators hear the suggestion — and the negativity that goes along with it.
But even as they struggle to escape the grip of a 1-4-1 start to their season, the Senators refuse to let the word "panic" creep into their vocabulary. To hear head coach Cory Clouston tell it, that would only make a frustrating predicament even worse.
"We just have to find a way to get a win here and we'll get some confidence from that," head coach Cory Clouston said following the Senators' practice earlier today at Scotiabank Place. "(The slow start) has showed us the areas we need to work on and get better at and it shows that when we don't play the way we should, we're not a very good team. Urgency is a lot better (word) to me than panic. We have to play with a lot more of a sense of urgency and positive comes from that.
"Panic ... nothing positive comes from that, but urgency, you can turn that into a positive for sure."
But as the old saying goes, there's nothing like winning to cure a lot of ills.
"Teams that don't win have a tough time winning. That's what happens," said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. "You've got to get a win and you've got to get a big performance out of a couple of individuals and, all of a sudden, you're a different looking team. I'm hoping that will be the case. We've gone through streaks with this team — too many of them — the last couple of years. We were hoping that wouldn't become the case (this season).
"We're all concerned. We want to win every night. The preparation for each individual game is for that to happen. So when we don't, we're concerned. That's our business."
There is also no doubt that the Senators need to begin their climb — and soon — from the 15th-place standing they currently hold in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa shares a 1-4-1 record with the Buffalo Sabres, with the two teams set to meet Friday night at HSBC Arena (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet East, Team 1200) before the Senators begin a run of four straight home games Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens.
"There's a concern because we wanted to get off to a good start and we haven't," said Senators defenceman Chris Campoli. "We've got to get things turned around because if you don't, you find yourself looking up (in the standings) and it's a long way back. We want to get things turned around, we know we have the guys in the room to do it, we're confident in that and we've really got to start playing a more consistent game."
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson
: "We go back to Buffalo now and we've turned seasons around in Buffalo before. But we're not in a situation where we can say 'we're okay, we can start slow and put on a good show down the stretch.' It doesn't work that way.
"We've got to turn it around as quick as we can. It's so tough to gain (ground) in the standings with the shootout and overtime points, so we would like to get back on a winning streak pretty quick."
"We don't need to think about the past right now. We need to think about Friday. One game at a time and if we get a win Friday, everything looks a little bit better and, hopefully, it snowballs in a positive way. That's the way we have to think now. We're still a loose group. We still believe in each other and we're still confident in our abilities. We just know that we've been through a bit of a tough stretch. We need to snap out of it and this weekend is the time, so we've really got to focus on that." - Chris Campoli
Clouston and the Senators went back to the basics at practice today, working toward regaining the type of structure that has made them successful in the past.
"We needed to get back to the drawing board," he said. "We're not so good that we can just play haphazard. We have to rely on simple structured hockey ... We have guys that care and now we have to make sure that intensity and that caring is channelled in the right direction. If you just work hard, it's not going to be good enough. You have to work hard and you have to work smart and you have to work within that system."
Clearly, there is no shortage of faith that the pieces are in place to get the job done.
"I don't think anyone is happy with the outcome of our games," said forward Nick Foligno
. "But we know it's our decision to get out of it. It comes on us as players and as a team to come together and do the right things to get out of this and we have the team in here that can do it."
And it's one step at a time in that process, added Campoli.
"We don't need to think about the past right now," he said. "We need to think about Friday. One game at a time and if we get a win Friday, everything looks a little bit better and, hopefully, it snowballs in a positive way. That's the way we have to think now.
"We're still a loose group. We still believe in each other and we're still confident in our abilities. We just know that we've been through a bit of a tough stretch. We need to snap out of it and this weekend is the time, so we've really got to focus on that."Around the boards
The Senators have assigned forward Zack Smith
to their American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, N.Y., and recalled veteran blueliner David Hale. "He's got a bit of experience," Clouston said of Hale, who impressed the team during training camp. "If he's a safe, solid, defensive defenceman, we'll be happy." ... Smith has been a healthy scratch the last two games and Clouston said "we feel it's important that he gets back to Binghamton (where he spent most of the last two seasons) for a short period of time and gets his confidence back and gets back up here." ... Centre Jason Spezza
, who missed time early in the season after tweaking a groin, took a "maintenance" day off practice. "We just don't want him in and out of the lineup," said Clouston. "We wanted to give him an extra day to make sure he's healthy for this weekend." ... Goaltender Pascal Leclaire (pulled groin) is feeling "much better today," Murray said, but still isn't ready to return to action. "It won't be by the weekend, for sure," he said. "We're hoping that we get through the weekend and he feels a lot better."