Sens on road to disaster

The Ottawa Senators are in a three-game losing skid as they wrap up their Western swing tonight...

The Ottawa Senators are in a three-game losing skid as they wrap up their Western swing tonight against the Coyotes. (The Ottawa Sun photo by Tony Caldwell)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:47 PM ET

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. -- Bryan Murray could have kicked butt yesterday.

Instead, the Senators coach and GM let the players have some fun as he tried to help them keep loose despite being mired in a three-game losing skid as they wrap up their Western swing tonight against the Coyotes.

While Murray had a serious discussion with the players about their situation before they went on the ice at the Alltel Ice Den, there were only 15 minutes of drills before he got off the ice and the players had fun with organized games -- including baseball.

If the Senators don't get a victory against the Coyotes at the Jobing.com Arena, then this trip will have been a monumental disaster.

"As coaches, I think they can sense that things are a little bit tense around here right now," said Senators centre Jason Spezza. "We want to win. We're not playing to lose. We're not going out there, trying to lose hockey games.

"It's important to realize that and it was good to have a day that was kind of like a day off. We've just got to salvage the trip for what it's worth now. We've got to try to get a win. It'd be nice to get a win and get a little confidence."

After losing 2-0 to the lowly Kings on Thursday, the Senators may have reached a low point. Losses to Anaheim and San Jose were one thing, but getting beat by the NHL's worst team is whole other issue.

But Murray, who is 1-4 behind the bench since taking over from coach John Paddock on Feb. 27, told the players what they're going through isn't unique and they just have to dig themselves out of this hole.

The Senators' biggest issue lately has been scoring goals. Ottawa has lost six of its last seven games and has been shut out in three of them. That's a shocking statistic with all the firepower the Senators have.

"I just wanted the guys to have a little fun out there and get the cement out of their hands," said Murray, only half-jokingly. "The lack of confidence is so evident. I told the guys before practice that we've all gone through times in our careers with teams where you weren't very good.

"Usually that happens when you don't feel good about yourself and your team and we're going through that right now, unfortunately. There has to be a turning point and then you start. Rather than pound at them -- and we could all be angry at not scoring -- what we have to do now is play better. That game (against the Kings) is gone now. We just have to play relaxed and better."

The Senators have been pressing to score. Centre Mike Fisher is in an 18-game slump, not having scored a goal since Jan. 29 against the Islanders. Winger Dany Heatley has just three goals in his last 12 games and Spezza has three in his last 10.

"I've never been through a stretch like this," said Fisher, who hit the post against the Kings. "(Against Los Angeles), I felt confident with the puck and I can't worry about it so much that I get away from working and trying to force things. It's one of those things that happens."


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