WASHINGTON -- Numbers can be twisted to tell the more preferable story.
Take Mike Fisher's 10-game goal rut. In his mind, it only goes back to New Year's Eve.
"I've got three (in the last 10)," the Senators centre pointed out. "Two (in) shootouts and one called back."
But as you know, Michael, shootout goals don't count toward personal statistics. And obviously, neither do those that are waved off.
"I'm telling myself they do," Fisher joked.
Then there's the Senators' road record. It's not as bad as it sounds, according to Chris Neil. Asked why the team has struggled, the rugged winger looked surprised.
"Our road record is .500, is it not?" he asked. "We've only played 12 road games."
Seventeen. And it's already four games under .500.
"Oh, maybe I've only played 12," said Neil, who missed a chunk of time with a knee injury. That explains things, he is told.
"Yeah," he said, laughing. "You answered your own question."
Officially, without their most punishing and intimidating player, the Senators' road record is 2-5-1. It's 4-5 with him.
Either way, they can not live on injury excuses. Their 6-10-1 road mark is unacceptable, and they probably have at least eight more road games before either Daniel Alfredsson or Jason Spezza return.
They have to start pocketing more than their per diem and the occasional road win. They must start declaring two points to customs more often.
"For us to get back into the playoffs, we have to be better on the road," said Chris Phillips. "We've played a lot of games at home, so we know the back half there's going to be a lot on the road. We have to be more prepared, and ready to play right from the start. We're starting to get to that time where every point is very crucial, makes it that much tougher when you're on the road and (rival) teams are at home.
"We've just got to expect more from ourselves."
The seven-game road skid from Oct. 29-Dec. 6 didn't help. Included was a damaging five-game trip that began in Boston and wound its way through California and Arizona before finishing in Anaheim. The shootout against the Ducks was the only game in which they won.
"That western trip hurt us for sure," said Neil. "It'd be nice to have picked up a couple more wins on that."
How is more success on the road attainable?
"You show up the rink, you've got to be ready to go, and not worry who you're going to be out against for matching lines and stuff," said Neil. "By just being more disciplined. You don't sell tickets on the road, so you've got to simplify your game. Get pucks in deep and do things that are a team effort instead of individual stuff."
Putting the puck in the net more frequently would help, too. The Senators have been outscored 61-40 on the road.
With Spezza and Alfredsson shelved, and with Alex Kovalev having scored only two of his 11 on the road, guys like Fisher and Milan Michalek -- who is now in an eight-game slump -- the Senators really need to rediscover their touch.
"I had no idea it was that many games," Fisher said of his funk. "That's the way the season goes, it's ups and downs. Sometimes you don't play well and get goals, get bounces, and feel good, and other times you play well and you're in the wrong spots. I was talking to Milan about it the other day because he'd kind of going through the same thing. It's a weird game sometimes."
Despite their record, Fisher said the Senators are looking forward to being back on the road.
"We've been at home for a little bit, now it's enjoy a little bit better weather, get away with the guys," he said. "The holiday season is always busy for the guys, with people in town, Now it's just kind of focus and play good on the road."
And return home with a more preferable and accurate story to tell.
Sounds like the world junior championship was not a great experience for Senators first-round pick Jared Cowen. "In the New Year's Eve game he was one of five Canadian defencemen that weren't very good," said Senators assistant GM Tim Murray, who was in Saskatchewan for the tournament. "(In the semi-final game) in his hometown, they didnít give him a chance to redeem himself. It embarrassed him, it deflated him. I think players come back after that. Then, when they lose (Travis) Hamonic (to injury), their hands are tied. They went into the final with six defencemen, and two of them theyíre not comfortable playing. They gave up six goals ... Iím not saying it was the direct result, but it was the result." ... Pascal Leclaire wasnít aware that it was now-teammate Anton Volchenkov who scored the winning goal on him when Russia defeated Canada in the 2002 gold medal game at the world juniors. Leclaire sympathized with Jake Allen, a St. Louis Blues second rounder who struggled in Tuesday's loss to the U.S. "That tournament is really neat," said Leclaire. "There's lots of media attention on that. Me, I got blamed when we lost. But it didn't really affect my career. (Allen) will be okay. He's a good goalie. He'll get over it."
THIS AND THAT
Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless for only the eighth time this season in Tuesday's 4-2 win over Montreal ... Ottawa is 29-28-5-2 all-time vs. the Caps ... The Senators' power play has sunk to 29th in the league with just 23 goals on 153 opportunities.
Senators: C Jason Spezza (knee) is expected back after the Olympic break; RW Daniel Alfredsson (shoulder) is expected back in early February. Capitals: G Semyon Varlamov (groin) could miss another two weeks