OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators don’t have a win yet but Daniel Alfredsson says there is no reason to hit the panic button.
Despite being without a victory after their first three games of the 2010-11 season—Ottawa’s worst start since the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign—the Senators captain sees no cause for alarm.
He believes Monday’s overtime loss to Washington, after a pair of defeats to Buffalo and Toronto, may have been the turning point.
“I felt the way we came back, having three games in four nights, and having that effort in Washington in a tough building to play in has given us a lot of encouragement going forward,” Alfredsson said Wednesday.
Alfredsson gave the Senators some encouraging news ahead of their next game, Thursday night when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Scotiabank Place, when he declared himself fit and ready to go after leaving Monday’s game in the third period with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
He wasn’t around when Alex Ovechkin scored in overtime to give the Capitals a 3-2 triumph that left Ottawa still looking for a win.
“I just felt a little soreness in one of my muscles, so it was just precautionary, nothing serious at all and I should be ready tomorrow again,” said Alfredsson, who added that he took a shot in the back of his leg in the season opener against Buffalo may have contributed to the problem.
The Senators haven’t gone three games without a win to start a season since it took them nine contests to notch a victory in 1995, when the campaign didn’t start until January because of the work stoppage.
“It’s a tough way to start, but we’ve got to build on what we did Monday in Washington and continue in that direction,” Alfredsson said.
That improved performance at the Verizon Center on Monday came after Alfredsson called a players-only meeting to try and get the team headed in the right direction.
“There wasn’t a sense of panic, but we knew we needed to address how we played,” centre Jason Spezza said Wednesday.”We’ve got to start playing good from Day 1. We can’t let things slide and if you let things slide too much, then you get into trouble.”
Goaltending was a big concern for the Senators heading into the season, but their biggest problem so far has been scoring goals. They have just four so far.
Spezza is the only member of the group that started the season as the team’s top six forwards to register a goal. The rest of the team’s leading scorers from last season—Alfredsson, Mike Fisher, Milan Michalek and Alex Kovalev—are joined by Nick Foligno in so far failing to find the back of the net.
“It’s three games, let’s not get too carried away,” Spezza said. “We’ve got to score goals and I think it gets analyzed, but the goals will come.”
Ottawa has allowed 10 goals in three games, but netminder Pascal Leclaire, who’s started all three contests so far, hasn’t played poorly with the exception of allowing a questionable OT winner to Ovechkin.
It’s the skaters in front of him who have struggled.
“Especially the first two games, we haven’t played really well moved the puck out of our own zone,” Fisher said Wednesday. “When we’re good in our zone and we can get the puck out quick, we’re using our speed, and we haven’t done a good job of that. We all have to do a much better job.”
Ottawa’s power play is also not helping matters.
The addition of veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar was supposed to boost the power play, but the results also have yet to be seen. Ottawa is 0-for-14 with the man advantage.
Coach Cory Clouston said the Senators’ man advantage “is still a work in progress.”
“It’s tough to have a good power play when your game is not going well,” he said.
Spezza thinks Ottawa’s fortunes will turn around. The Hurricanes’ visit to Scotiabank Place on Thursday night would be a good time in order to take some of the pressure off.
“The power play is one of those finicky things were once a couple of cheap ones go in, all of a sudden you look like you’re amazing and you’re passing the puck all around,”Spezza said. “But it is an area to focus on and it is an area where now that there’s not a lot of scoring chances in the league and when you get power plays you want to be able to put them in and that’s not something we want to be a problem when it should be a strength for us.”