Eight isn’t enough for the Ottawa Senators.
Or even 13, for that matter.
The National Hockey League’s hottest team takes dead aim at its eighth straight victory on Tuesday night, when the Toronto Maple Leafs come calling at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200). The Sens’ 12-1-0 mark is also tops in the NHL.
But if you’re thinking that winning is getting, shall we say, a bit on the routine side for this bunch, guess again.
“It’s easy to take winning for granted,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson
. “But I think (head coach John Paddock) has done a good job of reminding us that it takes a lot of work every day to give ourselves a chance to win.
“Every game is a challenge. There’s not a team that you can say, ‘even if we play bad, we’re going to win tonight.’ You’ve got to execute well every night. As a team, we take a lot of pride in just going out there and being ready to play.”
The Senators have done it in a variety of ways lately. On the weekend, they twice rallied against the Boston Bruins to scratch out a pair of one-goals wins – the latter a shootout triumph Sunday night in Beantown.
“We know our record is pretty outstanding, but at times we feel we can improve in a lot of different areas,” said centre Mike Fisher. “It seems like we’re finding little ways to win.
“After we’ve had bad periods, we’ll come back. Our resiliency is probably the most impressive thing so far. We just seem to be on a roll, we’re having fun and we know what we can do, especially late in games, to win hockey games.”
Some of that moxie, no doubt, developed during the Senators’ run to the Stanley Cup final last spring. Right from training camp, this group has come to the rink each day with a singular mindset about winning.
“We’ve been on a mission so far, after getting a little taste of success last year,” said Fisher. “We’ve got a lot to prove. It’s early in the season and we’ve got to keep going. There’s still a long way to go (for us) to be where we want to be.”
Added Paddock: “I think they do have a confidence now when they play. I think they’ve matured. They stick to it, and we win.”
The Senators opened the season with back-to-back victories over the Maple Leafs. But both of them were tight, one-goal affairs, giving the Sens cause to expect another battle Tuesday night.
“We’ve got to look at Toronto and worry about them,” said Paddock. “They’re second in the league in goals scored, they’re 3-1 in their last four games. If that doesn’t motivate a team to play in its own building, I don’t know what does.”
For the fourth straight game, centre Jason Spezza
won’t be a part of the proceedings. He skated lightly(“kind of 50 per cent”) after practice Monday at Scotiabank Place, but said his injured groin isn’t “where it should be” yet in terms of recovery.
He doesn’t feel any less of a sense of urgency because his teammates keep on winning.
“It’s going to take a little bit (more) time,” said Spezza. “There’s no rush, but I’m not taking my time, either. I want to get back into the games, to get playing again.
“Trust me, when it’s good, I’ll be playing. I’m not going to take extra time just because we’re winning or the team’s doing well.”
About 500 tickets remain for Tuesday’s game, with 1,000 left for Thursday’s visit by the Washington Capitals.