Senators keeping big victory in perspective
Win over Coyotes was uplifting, but team knows building process far from complete
|Forward Peter Regin agrees that the Senators need to preach patience as they continue their early-season building process. The Florida Panthers visit Scotiabank Place on Thursday night (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).
While their early-season funk has been trying at times, the Ottawa Senators keep getting an increased sense that they're building in the right direction. But even in the wake of an uplifting 5-2 home-ice victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night, the Senators know the job is far from done yet.
"We've just got to keep trying to improve every day," head coach Cory Clouston said following the Senators' practice earlier today at the Bell Sensplex. "We're 3-3-1 since our first two games at the start (of the season) and we feel we're getting better. There are still some areas to work on and to me, that's the focus that we're going to have. We know what we did well — keep doing that but the little areas that we've got to improve on, we've just got to continue picking away at it."
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson: "It's a process all the time. There's ups and downs and you've just got to continue to improve. We're happy that we had the effort that we did yesterday. Now it's back to work tomorrow."
While the mood was clearly improved in the wake of Tuesday's victory, there is a sobering thought not far from mind. Last Friday, the Senators took a step forward with their first road win of the season in Buffalo, only to lay a major egg against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Place the following night.
Perspective, it must be said, is firmly in place right now as the Senators begin to point their thoughts toward Thursday's matchup with the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., Rogers Sportsnet Sens, Team 1200).
"It's only one game, but I think we made some steps last night," said Senators forward Peter Regin, who recorded a two-point night against the Coyotes. "We played a good game and probably our best game so far this year. Hopefully, we can build on that and keep things going and don't have a bad game tomorrow (against the Panthers) like we did (after) the last time we played well in Buffalo."
"it’s important to get off to a good start," said Regin. "You can’t lose a lot of games in the beginning — then you’re gone. You saw last year with Toronto and Carolina, they were pretty much (done) by September. So you have to play well at the beginning of the season but at the same time, it’s not like we’ve lost nine games.
"We still have some points and we know if we get it back on track and put some stretches together where we win games, we will be in good shape."
The Senators also realize they'll have to endure more ups and downs along the way, even from period to period on a given night. Witness Tuesday night's game, when Ottawa built a 3-0 lead in the first period, then saw the margin shrink to a single goal before salting it away with a pair of tallies in the third.
"That’s the way it’s going to be," admitted Alfredsson. "More and more in this league, you’re not going to see a team dominate for 60 minutes. We’re in the situation, too, where it’s not like we take 20 minutes off. We’re up 3-0 and we need this win desperately. You become a little bit cautious, you lose a bit of momentum and all of a sudden, you sit back before you even know it.
"It’s nice to see we could come back in the third and play pretty well again."
Around the boards
Jason Spezza (groin) isn't expected to be in the lineup against the Panthers, Clouston said, adding he's hopeful his No. 1 centre will be ready to suit up against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m., CBC, Team 1200). Both Spezza and Clouston would rather take care of the injury right now, rather than have it linger later into the season. "It does no one any good, especially himself, when he’s out there starting at 75 per cent and the game ends and he’s at 50 per cent and then he’s scratched the next night," said Clouston. "We need him to feel confident in his body physically, go out there and play and not start each game getting worse and worse." ... Defenceman Erik Karlsson and forward Milan Michalek both took "maintenance" days off practice but aren't expected to miss any game time, while goaltender Robin Lehner missed today's session because of illness. Spezza's younger brother, Matthew, filled the netminding void during practice.