|Senators head coach Cory Clouston will gladly match his team up with any of the playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
The standings don't exactly agree with his sentiment.
But given their performance level of late, Ottawa Senators head coach Cory Clouston will gladly match his team up with any of the squads currently occupying one of the eight Eastern Conference playoff berths.
"We feel like we're a playoff team," Clouston said of the Senators (29-30-10), who stand 12th in the East, 13 points shy of a playoff berth. "Whether or not we end up in the playoffs, that's (yet) to be determined, but we still feel that we're a playoff team. We'll feel we're doing enough things right now and beating enough teams and we've shown and proved to ourselves that we're a playoff team.
"Hopefully, time will be on our side."
Time is running short, with only 13 games remaining in the Senators' regular season. But they've knocked off playoff contenders such as the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes in recent weeks and looked awfully good doing it. Safe to say, this isn't a team any opponent is licking its chops about facing with playoff positioning on the line.
"The way we've turned it around is a great feeling for us, but it's still a matter of we're not really where we want to be," said captain Daniel Alfredsson
after his team's pre-game skate earlier today in advance of a matchup with the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200).
"We feel like if we would have made the playoffs or can make the playoffs, we can beat any team."
Added centre Mike Fisher: "We know what kind of team we can be. Regardless of our situation, we know we've come a long way as a team. We're playing better and that's what we're taking pride in."
"The way we've turned it around is a great feeling for us, but it's still a matter of we're not really where we want to be. We feel like if we would have made the playoffs or can make the playoffs, we can beat any team." - Daniel Alfredsson
Though they're 6-1-0 in their past seven starts, the Senators haven't exactly made it easy on themselves. Surrendering the first goal is a bit of a habit Clouston's charges would like to break tonight against a Canadiens team barely clinging to a playoff berth.
"We need a good start," said Clouston. "We've got to make sure we come out with some emotion and intensity. That doesn't always necessarily mean that you're going to start out with the lead. It means you've got the energy level, you're prepared and you're focused right from the start."
That's especially important against the Habs, who jumped into a 4-0 lead and cruised to a 5-3 victory the last time the teams met Feb. 21 in Montreal. Ottawa is 0-2-2 against the Canadiens this season but Alfredsson said "we know we're a better team than we were earlier in the year and it should be a good matchup."
Elliott aiming to roll a record seven
When Brian Elliott takes his position between the pipes tonight, he'll have a shot at making a little bit of history. He's won six straight starts, tying a Senators team record for the longest winning streak by a rookie goaltender. That standard was set by Jani Hurme in 2000-01 and matched by Ray Emery in 2005-06.
Not that Elliott (13-4-3) is dwelling on it too much.
"I didn't even know about it," he said. "It's not about records or individual stats, it's about trying to get the win and getting our team to the next level."Around the boards
Forward Mike Comrie is still battling a flu bug, with Clouston saying he's "still probably not ready" to face the Canadiens tonight ... Defenceman Jason Smith (knee) and Alex Picard (knee) are both "still a ways away" from returning, he added ... Fewer than 100 tickets remain for today's game, while 2,000 are left for Saturday's visit by ex-Sens forward Dean McAmmond and the New York Islanders.