Murray buying into Senators

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- In the Music City, Senators GM Bryan Murray admitted he's willing to change his tune.

While the Senators are 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as their tour through the American Midwest continues tonight against the Predators at the Sommet Center, Murray said yesterday he'd have no problem being a buyer at the NHL trade deadline if the team can find a way to move closer to the No. 8 spot.

The odds are stacked against them, but with the Senators on a four-game winning streak, Murray hasn't ruled out changing his deadline status from seller to buyer.

"If we keep playing well in the next couple of weeks, then, sure, I'd consider the possibility of getting us help at the deadline," said Murray. "We're playing well as a team. We just have to keep having success."

FLYING HIGH

The Senators were still flying high yesterday after a 5-3 comeback victory over the Wild on Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center. Ottawa erased a three-goal deficit, stretched coach Cory Clouston's record to 4-1-1 since he took over on Feb. 1 and moved into 12th spot in the East.

That's a long way back from being in the post-season, but the Senators are playing with confidence they haven't had all season and players who struggled under former coach Craig Hartsburg have picked up their games significantly.

There is a sense in the dressing room that hasn't existed all year. There were smiles and laughs as the players left the ice following a 45-minute workout in St. Paul, Minn., yesterday.

"There's a big difference. There's no doubt about that," said Senators winger Antoine Vermette, who has been one of the club's best players in the last month. "You can see it and you can feel it. It's a lot better. There's not as much tension in here.

"We feel a lot more comfortable and a lot more confidence with the way we've been playing lately. It's much more fun for everybody."

The improvement doesn't mean Murray is going to stop taking calls from fellow GMs. A lot of teams have asked about Vermette, but he likely won't be dealt. Blueliner Christoph Schubert is expected to be moved because he's not playing and there are teams looking for defencemen.

If Murray decides to become a buyer, he might hold onto potential unrestricted free-agent blueliner Filip Kuba and bring in a puck-movig defenceman.

There's also the status of injured winger Chris Neil, who is also a potential UFA.

The players know they've got a long road ahead of them.

"We can't be excited about what we've done. Obviously, we're happy we've turned it around," said Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, who is plus-7 in his last nine games. "But we know that we have to keep it going. (Getting to the playoffs) has got to be our goal.

"We just have to keep playing the way we're playing. We can't get too focused on where we are and what we have to do. Right now, it's working for us and we're getting wins. If we just continue to do that, when it comes down to it we might have a chance (at the post-season)."

Clouston said the Senators have bought in quickly to the style he wants them to play.

"This is a lot more of an indication of what this club is like," said Clouston. "We're not going to win every game for the rest of the year I would imagine, but we have an opportunity and confidence we can beat any opponent."

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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