Sens haven't earned the right to be called underdogs

ERIN NICKS

, Last Updated: 8:18 AM ET

So, Bryan Murray ... tell us: How much can be accomplished in 16 games?

With the return of their former coach, talk of "righting the ship" for the Senators has begun. This year's timing is significant -- it's March and not November.

No excuses can be provided from the front office at this stage.

Yet in the midst of this feebly disguised panic, another buzzword has re-emerged from the Senators' familiar lexicon. The only problem is the choice to invoke it seems rather premature.

The term in question is "underdog."

Being an underdog is synonymous with being "plucky" or "scrappy" or "resourceful."

An underdog has certain qualities that move observers to play up their chances of beating the favoured team. If they're on an upswing of any kind, it only adds fuel to the fire.

However, the Senators have accomplished very little in demonstrating these attributes.

It seems preposterous to think when you recall their blistering 15-2-0 start, but given the state they currently find themselves in, Ottawa must now fight for the right to be considered a Stanley Cup sleeper pick.

No so-called favourite, regardless of potential, should be playing hopscotch in the standings at this time of year.

OVERDUE

The Senators are long overdue to reverse the misfortune of the past few months,. Many will be looking to tomorrow's game in Anaheim as a springboard for the rest of the season.

The game vs. Detroit on Jan. 12 revolved around timing (the top teams from each conference going head-to-head).

The tilt against the Ducks holds deeper meaning -- last year's Stanley Cup results, combined with the belief that Anaheim is favoured to repeat as champions.

If the Senators can beat the Ducks tomorrow and forge a significantly long winning streak (something they couldn't do after facing the Red Wings), it will go a long way in squelching the notion that this season is a write-off waiting to happen.

One victory against Anaheim won't make the Senators the favourites, but it may eventually allow them to become underdogs again. That's not necessarily bad.

Keep in mind that the Senators weren't favoured in any of their post-season matchups last year.

The recovery after a brutal beginning in the early months of the regular season was placating, but finishing fourth in the conference left the team in questionable territory and their playoff history didn't help matters.

Sidney Crosby was going to annihilate them. Martin Brodeur was going to stonewall them. The Sabres were going to skate right past them, or so the talking heads insisted.

No franchise ever sets out to achieve the role of underdog. The spin may be that all pressure falls upon the shoulders of the favourite, but the Senators would never be afforded that luxury.

Regardless of their perception and position, failure is not an option.

It's true that anything can happen in the playoffs, but a team needs to approach April with a positive yet assertive outlook.

Right now, Ottawa's best bet down the stretch is to aim for the outside shot.

Becoming an underdog suggests there's hope to be had.

Limping into the playoffs will mark the Senators as underachievers -- and that's the wrong "u" word to be associated with.


Videos

Photos