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Senators working toward major turnaround

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Centre Mike Fisher believes the Senators need to further establish themselves as a team that outworks the opposition to record victories (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).

Their resolve to play their way into better days remains as firm as ever.

And there is nothing flashy about what the Ottawa Senators believe it will take to reverse their fortunes in the second half of what has been a disappointing season to date. Just some good, old-fashioned hard work, they are certain, must be at the heart of any turnaround that may ensue in the coming weeks and months.

"You have to put the work in," captain Daniel Alfredsson said earlier today. "It's really important to have the energy in practice and workouts to keep the spirits up as much as we can.

"We know we're in a tough spot, but we're not going to fold it in and feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to work to try to find a way out of this."

With four days of practice staring his team in the face before Friday's matchup with the Blackhawks at the United Center in Chicago (8:30 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200), head coach Cory Clouston decided to give his team a break from the ice and instead opted for a workout session in the gym at Scotiabank Place.

"You've got to keep the guys positive, you've got to keep them upbeat, so today (we decided on) an off-ice workout," he said. "They still worked hard. We just gave them a little bit different of a focus. It'll be the same with (Wednesday).

"Sometimes, when you put four practices together, it's hard to stay focused, so we wanted to make sure that when we do have them on the ice, we have their attention. This was a way we thought we could get their attention and make sure they're still focused for tomorrow ... the work ethic is still there and those are things we really want to build on."

As centre Mike Fisher suggested, it's that kind of lunch-pail mentality that has to be the Senators' driving force as a team. Flash and dash aren't what this group should be all about, he added.

"Our identity has to be outworking teams consistently and just being smart," said Fisher. "We’re not a run-and-gun team. We have to be patient, good defensively, good in the neutral zone and maybe win a 2-1 game and be confident we can do that on a lot of nights. That’s how we’re going to have to win.

"You have to put the work in It's really important to have the energy in practice and workouts to keep the spirits up as much as we can. We know we're in a tough spot, but we're not going to fold it in and feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to work to try to find a way out of this." - Daniel Alfredsson
"It’s halfway through the year and we haven’t established ourselves like we wanted to. But there are a lot of games left and areas to improve. The good news is, we can only get better."

The key to that, Clouston said, is not wavering on their commitment to doing things the right way, even if the expected results aren't there just yet.

"Sometimes, there’s no right or wrong answer," he said. "Sometimes it’s a matter of just continuing to work hard, doing the things you’re doing and eventually things will turn around. But you’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to do the right things. They’re not just going to happen on their own. You have to continue to work hard, stay focused, stay positive, but still be realistic about the areas you need to work on.

"There’s a fine line between winning four or five games in a row or losing three or four games in a row. There really is. Often, it’s the little things you’re doing really right or really wrong that you need to tinker with. It’s not necessarily (making) wholesale changes. It’s not going out and bag skating the team for an hour and a half. It’s just trying to stick with the things you do well and correct the things that you’re not (doing right)."

Around the boards

The Senators remain hopeful that goaltender Pascal Leclaire (lower body) will be ready to take part in a full practice Wednesday with the rest of his teammates. "He skated a little harder today with pucks and some shots," said Clouston. "There's a possibility he may join us tomorrow for practice. If not, he'll come on the road with us (to Chicago) ... The Senators return home Saturday to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200) ... Also Saturday, tickets for all home games in February, March and April go on sale at 10 a.m.



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