|Brian Elliott and the Senators have shown plenty of character in consecutive come-from-behind wins, according to head coach Cory Clouston (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
They've had the word tossed in their faces more times than they'd like to count. And not often in the most complimentary of ways.
But Ottawa Senators head coach Cory Clouston says the questions about his team's character can stop right now. He points, among other things, to a pair of comebacks from two-goal deficits that had his players showing an extra bounce in their step as they went through a short but intense practice session earlier today at Scotiabank Place.
"I know it's been questioned at times throughout the season but I haven't seen that at all," Clouston said in reference to the Senators' level of intestinal fortitude. "There's no question about that. Overall, I think, our team has shown a lot of character. You don't fall behind and come back from deficits, and you don't go on a road trip like we did (in February) and have that success without, in my opinion, (showing) character."
By rallying past the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres in their previous two outings, the Senators offered further proof this isn't the same team that all but played itself out of playoff contention in the first half of the season.
"We seem to have relaxed and found our game and just haven't given up," said centre Mike Fisher. "We've been down in games, especially the last couple, and we seemed to keep pushing and finding ways to win. That's what good teams do and that's what we've become, a good team.
"We knew that we were, we just weren't playing that way early on and we waited a little too long to get going."
They intend to make life anything but easy for the 13 opponents remaining on their schedule, starting with the Montreal Canadiens, who visit Scotiabank Place on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
"Overall, I think, our team has shown a lot of character. You don't fall behind and come back from deficits and you don't go on a road trip like we did (in February) and have that success without, in my opinion, (showing) character." - Cory Clouston
"There's no complacency here," said forward Shean Donovan. "(Clouston) wants us to work hard, stay focused and see what we can do here. You do want to play spoiler but at the same time, you want to collect wins, stay confident and get on a roll."
All of which helps explain the hard-working attitude in practice, the place Clouston said provides "your foundation" for any success.
"There is a fine line between confidence and complacency," said defenceman Brendan Bell. "You want to be a team or be a player who's a little bit cocky and who's confident, but you don't want to sit back and think 'I can just throw my stick and gloves out there and win hockey games.'
"I think we've done a pretty good job to this point, since Cory's been here, of pushing even harder on the day after wins and the day after real good nights."Bell answering call of opportunity
With a two-goal performance in Tuesday's victory over the Sabres, Bell served further notice of his strong desire to be a part of the Senators' future.
"I want to be here in Ottawa and I want to be a part of this team," said the former 67's captain, who is currently on a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators. "I think we've got a good group in here, despite what we showed at the start of the season. I've got something to prove, for sure, and, hopefully, I can keep playing like that."
The first two-goal game of Bell's NHL career came with his former 67's coach, Brian Kilrea, looking on from a Scotiabank Place suite on St. Patrick's Day.
"If he was the good luck charm, the luck of the Irish, he's welcome any time," said Bell with a grin. "He can have my tickets."Around the boards
Forward Mike Comrie is still battling the flu bug and Clouston deemed him "questionable" for Thursday's game against the Canadiens ... With a victory over Montreal, the Senators (29-30-10) can climb back up to the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 8 ... Fewer than 100 tickets remain for Thursday's game.