The Ottawa Senators may be struggling, but the club has every reason to believe it can turn things around.
Mired in a six-game winless streak and barely holding on to a playoff spot, the Senators (21-21-7) say they have plenty of time to right the ship.
“We think we have what it takes to turn this around obviously,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said Monday. “We know it's not going to be easy, but it's a challenge and we look forward to it.”
Despite the losses piling up, the Senators remain optimistic.
“We put ourselves in a good spot and I don't think there's any reason to panic,” Nick Foligno said. “We've worked hard to get where we are and we're still in a good position and we know we need to win games, but we still feel like we're right there and we can tweak things just a bit and we'll be playing winning hockey again.”
One of the most noticeable aspects through the losing streak has been the Senators offensive struggles.
They were shutout against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and were held to just one goal in three of the other losses.
Not surprisingly Ottawa's top three scorers have been ineffective. Milan Michalek doesn't have a point in his last seven games, Jason Spezza has been held pointless in his last six and Alfredsson has two goals and one assist in the same span.
In addition, Ottawa's supporting cast hasn't managed to make up for those shortages.
Foligno, Zack Smith, Colin Greening and Erik Condra are all struggling offensively as well, and even Erik Karlsson, with just one goal and two assists during the slide, isn't contributing as much.
It came as no surprise that Monday's practice featured work on driving to the net and getting pucks on goal.
“We believe in our abilities and know that the goals are going to come,” Foligno said. “It's just a matter of doing the little things right now whether it's getting to the net or getting more shots on net. Once you do that I think you're going to see goals go in and it's just a matter of breaking through that barrier.”
Spezza admits guys are probably “squeezing the sticks” a little bit more right now and if the team can go back to some basics success will likely follow.
“It's nice to have a foundation that we've created that we can fall back on and that we feel comfortable with,” Spezza said. “Everybody feels that the way we play the game translates well into good, competitive close hockey games. We've built that foundation to fall back onto and this is when you use it, when you're going through a losing streak. You go back to the things that got you the wins earlier on.”
The Senators are back in action Tuesday night when the St. Louis Blues come to town. Paul MacLean didn't name his starting goaltender but he also seemed a little annoyed when asked if maybe starter Craig Anderson was in need of a break.
Anderson has started the last 17 games and already played in 50 overall, the most of any goaltender in the league.
“I'm not worried,” MacLean said. “Some goalies have played a little over 70 games lots of time and Craig's done it before so we're not worried about him.”
Notes: D Brian Lee has been cleared to play after missing the last ten games with a lower body injury. ... It appears Jesse Winchester has suffered a setback in his recovery from a concussion as he did not skate with the team.