Heat builds on Sens

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Senators hit the road yesterday desperately in search of some answers.

Anything that might get them out of the three-game losing skid they're carrying into tonight's game in Washington against the Capitals.

It is becoming more apparent that if the Senators don't get their act together on this four-game road trip, then changes could be on the way because the season hasn't started the way anybody envisioned it would.

The heat is on everybody, from GM John Muckler on down to coach Bryan Murray, captain Daniel Alfredsson and the rest of the players to get this turned around quickly.

BUSY STRETCH

After blowing a 2-0 lead to Carolina on Saturday night, the Senators face a gruelling stretch of 14 games in 25 days before the month is out.

The Senators know they have to focus on what's not happening on the ice right now if they're going to get out of this mess. It's the reason they held a 10-minute "players only" meeting after Saturday night's loss.

"Our work ethic hasn't been there. That's half the battle," said Senators winger Chris Neil. "We've got to work hard and we've got to be able to rely on one another. The trust factor isn't there right now.

"It's not just one person or two people, it's the whole team. We go out there as a team and we come off as a team. We're going to stick together. That's how you are going to get out of this."

Problem is, the Senators haven't shown anything that resembles consistency through the first 12 games of the season and that's the reason they've hit the latest bump in the road. They've identified the problems, but don't be surprised if Murray tries new line combinations tonight against the Caps.

What other choice does he have?

"A lot of things (have gone wrong). We don't seem to be playing with the confidence that we need," said Senators centre Mike Fisher. "As a team, we know we can be much better. We've got to play a little more urgent. We need wins. That's the bottom line. We've got a good group of guys here. We just got to put it together and try not to hang our heads and let it affect us even more. We got to stay positive. We know we can turn it around. We've had a bad start, but we're going to work our way out of it.

CRITICAL TIME

"Late in the season, we're going to remember this and we'll be a better team than this."

The area of biggest concern for the club is its anemic power play. When is the last time the Senators were ranked dead last with the man advantage? But that's where they are right now: 6-for-71 this season and ranked 30th in the league.

Even worse, the Senators have been letting 5-on-3 advantages slip away, including a pair of them against Carolina.

The Senators have tried everything here. They've had Alfredsson on the point and at the wing. The return of defenceman Joe Corvo with his big shot was supposed to help. Sure, they've missed Wade Redden, out the last three games with a nagging groin injury. But that's no excuse either.

"It's so frustrating, that we get the puck around the net and we can't finish," said Murray. "If it breaks, we hope that will snowball for us and we hope that it will snowball the other way. For some reason, we don't score very easily. We just don't seem to be finishing right now."

Somebody has to step up for the Senators and it needs to happen soon. If the answers are going to come from within this group, they have to happen immediately.

"It's got to be up to the guys in the room," said Spezza. "We are the ones who put our equipment on and we are the ones who have to play better."

AROUND THE GLASS: D Wade Redden (sore groin) didn't skate before the Senators left town yesterday and a decision on whether he'll play tonight won't be made until after the morning skate. "I just told everybody to stay away from the rink," said Murray ... G Ray Emery will make the start against the Caps as the goalie rotation continues.


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