SAN JOSE — The Ottawa Senators arrived in the Silicon Valley Sunday and did some soul-searching Sunday to try to find solutions to their struggles.
Coming off a 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils Saturday in front of 18,881 at the Canadian Tire Centre, the Senators skated Sunday in San Jose as they prepare to start a four-game road trip Monday night against the Shark.
Seventeen games into the season, the Senators have a 6-10-1 record and need to find consistency quickly if they’re to have any chance of playing the meaningful games in March they so badly wanted when this season got under way.
They know Saturday wasn’t good enough and they have to be better. It’s the first loss where anybody has really felt like the club hasn’t given itself a chance to win.
“That’s our worst game,” coach D.J. Smith said after the club’s skate at the SAP Center. “That happens, and you don’t want that to happen very often. We weren’t happy about it. We have pride in our group that we work hard. You’re not always going to get the results, but we have to work hard, work as a team and do everything right.
“We didn’t have that (Saturday) and to a man we talked about that today. Our identity has to be that we’re going to be hard to play against. We know how important this road trip is for us. I thought we had a really good practice with good energy today. You can’t let a loss linger any longer than you can let a win linger. Guys looked to me like they were flying around out there.”
Yes, the Devils set a franchise record with their 12th straight win and they’ve frustrated a lot of teams, but the Senators didn’t put up nearly enough of a fight for 60 minutes and the result was all too familiar. That’s why the Senators need to turn the page quickly.
“We’re honest with ourselves as a team. We’re not where we want to be,” Smith said. “There’s no excuses. You can come up with whatever excuses you want, whether it’s guys out or bounces or whatever it’s. That’s pro sports and our job is to win hockey games.
“We haven’t won enough and we have to be better. We know that. This is a big road trip for us.”
That’s why the Senators’ coaching staff decided to have a heart-to-heart chat with the players before they went on the ice here. There’s a lot of negativity surrounding the Senators right now and they’re taking it from everywhere because this team hasn’t performed up expectations.
“I thought we had a good meeting today, we had a good practice and I thought we had a good talk,” said Ottawa winger Drake Batherson. “We have to get back to the way we were playing, playing as a team and playing for each other.”
It’s hard for the Senators to explain why they deviated from that game plan against the Devils but there’s literally nothing they can do to change the result. The best bet is to try to have a much better and more consistent effort against the Sharks.
People in Ottawa are restless because this was supposed to be the year the Senators made the next step after the changes made in the off-season. The fans want results and the Senators haven’t been able to deliver enough wins.
What they’re trying to do at the moment is ignore the noise.
“We’re on the road and we’re not going to overlook or overanalyze the situation. There’s probably enough of that going on outside our room so we don’t need to be doing that ourselves,” said veteran defenceman Travis Hamonic.
“We just need to worry about playing, shift-by-shift, period-by-period and, quite frankly, just putting our best foot forward and see where that leads us.”
The Senators know the odds of pushing for a playoff spot in the spring get longer with every point they let slip away. The fan base is frustrated and with American Thanksgiving Thursday the club is on the outside looking in.
Often in the NHL, if you’re not in the playoff picture to kick off the holiday season in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ll be on the outside looking in come April.
“It’s an important trip, you’re on the road for four games in some hard buildings and you’re playing some good teams,” said Hamonic. “Sometimes when things haven’t gone as well as you would have liked it’s nice to get on the road and be with the guys.
“We’ve just got to go out there and play.
There’s no way the Senators saw this coming.
“There’s highs and lows in every season,” said captain Brady Tkachuk. “I know that I have faith in our team. Everybody in this room has faith that we can (turn this around).
“Everybody talks about the fact that the St. Louis Blues were dead last and they won the Stanley Cup. I’m not comparing ourselves to that, but anything can happen. We’re just focusing on day-in and day-out and getting better every day.
“Every day there’s a lesson to be learned and we’re going to learn from that one.”
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