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'Anything can happen:' Melnyk

One day at a time for team starting with tonight's matchup against Devils

Tuesday, 27.01.2009 / 11:50 AM / Features
By Rob Brodie  -
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\'Anything can happen:\' Melnyk
Brian Elliott and the Senators aim to extend their unbeaten streak to five games when they face the New Jersey Devils tonight at Scotiabank Place (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
Today is the first day of the rest of the Ottawa Senators' season.

And owner Eugene Melnyk remains convinced that his team's improved stretch of play before the National Hockey League's all-star break is a sign of more positive things to come.

"I think everybody is breathing a little sigh of relief," Melnyk said earlier today when asked about the Senators' current 3-0-1 run. "I'm so excited about tonight's game."

The Senators face off against the New Jersey Devils tonight at Scotiabank Place (7:30 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet, Team 1200) still staring at a major deficit in their bid to snare an Eastern Conference playoff berth. They're currently in 13th spot, 12 points outside of a playoff position, but Melnyk has a good feeling about the momentum his team will carry into the remainder of the season.

"Look, anything can happen," he said after speaking at a press conference to unveil the latest news about Senators Sports & Entertainment's bid for a Major League Soccer franchise. "My Mississauga St. Mike's Majors (of the Ontario Hockey League), before the world juniors began, were under .500. They went out and won nine in a row. They went from out of the playoffs to third or fourth in their conference and they will now be in the playoffs.

"All we need is some luck. We need hard work and we need the momentum. I think this could be the beginning of the momentum I've been talking about all season. I really hope it is."

Senators head coach Craig Hartsburg and his players are steadfastly sticking to a "one game at a time" approach that will be their mantra going forward.

"We know we're not in a great position but at the same time, we've made a decision not to look too far ahead," said centre Mike Fisher, who'll move to the wing again tonight alongside Nick Foligno and Binghamton callup Peter Regin. "The game (that matters) is the one ahead of us and that's tonight. We know it's a big game for us and we've got to focus on this and continue on.

"Before the break, we played pretty well and we've just got to continue playing that same way and give ourselves a chance."

"We know we're not in a great position but at the same time, we've made a decision not to look too far ahead. The game (that matters) is the one ahead of us and that's tonight." - Mike Fisher
Added Hartsburg: "We don't worry about the math (involved in making the playoffs). It's one game. The number we worry about is one. That's tonight."

While Melnyk is very aware of how big the chore is, he subscribes to the same line of thinking.

"It's a question of every single game at a time," he said. "We're all very, very cognizant of the fact we've got to win 28 games (over) the balance of the season. That's a tough, tough thing to do but is it doable? There's no question about it.

"I think this team has the grit, I think we have the fans to support it and they sure have the management and the coaching to do it."

Around the boards

For the first time this season, veteran defenceman Jason Smith will be a healthy scratch. "I was surprised and disappointed," he said about receiving the news from Hartsburg. "You become a player in this league to play games and do whatever you can to help the team have success. I pride myself on going out and working hard and I'll continue to do that." ... Regin's callup makes Christoph Schubert a healthy scratch as well ... Brian Elliott (3-1-1) makes his sixth straight start in the Senators net ... Fewer than 1,250 tickets remain for the game.




1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
3 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
4 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
5 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
6 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
7 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
8 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52


E. Karlsson 82 20 54 -15 74
J. Spezza 75 23 43 -26 66
K. Turris 82 26 32 22 58
C. MacArthur 79 24 31 12 55
B. Ryan 70 23 25 7 48
A. Hemsky 75 13 30 -15 43
M. Michalek 82 17 22 -25 39
M. Zibanejad 69 16 17 -15 33
M. Methot 75 6 17 0 23
P. Wiercioch 53 4 19 -1 23
C. Anderson 25 16 8 .911 3.00
R. Lehner 12 15 6 .913 3.06