Far away from winter’s chill, the Ottawa Senators will try to escape the icy grip of a six-game losing streak.
The Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning face off Tuesday night at St. Pete Times Forum (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) in the first of five straight road games over a 10-day span. They’ve held team meetings and talked plenty about what needs to be done to escape their current funk.
Now it’s time to put the plan into action against the Lightning.
“Every game is crucial for us at the moment,” said head coach John Paddock after Tuesday’s pre-game skate. “We need to get back on track … There should be a real focus on our part to go out and play a hard and smart game.”
While the Senators, at 16-7-2, still own the best record in the Eastern Conference, their edge over the rest of the pack has dwindled severely. The Carolina Hurricanes are a single point behind, the New York Rangers just two back.
Even in the Northeast Division, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have closed to within four points of the first-place Sens.
“We are saying all the right things and we’re trying all the right things,” said veteran defenceman Luke Richardson. “It’s just that the bounces aren’t going great at the beginning of games and we’re a little tight. But we had a meeting (Monday) and talked about it and it’s just time to refocus and reset our goals.
“I think things came very easy for us, even though we did work for them, at the beginning of the year. Now it’s just time to readjust because teams are ready for us and we just weren’t on top of our game. It was no one’s fault but our own. We just have to readjust and re-establish ourselves as what we really are, which is one of the top teams (in the National Hockey League).”
Paddock has shuffled his defensive pairings for Tuesday’s game. Chris Phillips
will line up alongside Andrej Meszaros, while it’ll be Wade Redden matched with Joe Corvo and Christoph Schubert teaming up with Richardson. It’s an alignment Paddock believes can best deal with the absence of Anton Volchenkov, who’s sidelined with a broken finger.
“We just feel that, for a matchup with this much importance, Mez is the best guy to play with (Phillips),” said Paddock. “He’s the closest type of player, a big, strong, mobile player.
“And I sort of agree with Schubie. We’re throwing him in on defence after he’s hardly played it this year and we’re expecting a lot out of him. He proved he could play there last year, but he probably needs a bit of a break-in time again.”
AHL honours Glass, Hamel
Binghamton Senators goaltender Jeff Glass has been named the American Hockey League’s goaltender of the month for November. In nine games, Glass posted a 6-2-1 record with a 1.77 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and two shutouts … B-Sens forward Denis Hamel is the AHL player of the week for the period ending Dec. 2. Hamel scored five goals, including a pair of game-winners, to fuel three straight Binghamton victories. The B-Sens are 5-0-1-1 in their last seven games.