The Senators, of course, would like nothing more than to deep-six the last six, to turn the calendar back to Oct. 8 and start all over again.
But they’ve made this bed, and now they have to toss and turn their way through the nightmare.
At 1-4-1, Ottawa is off to its worst start in 16 years. This is the first time the Senators have won fewer than two of their first half dozen games since the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season. Then, with Alexei Yashin and Alexandre Daigle as their leaders, they went nine before getting their first win, and when the 48-game schedule had concluded, they had a 9-34-5 record and sole residency of the NHL basement.
The following season, the Senators finished last again, but there were signs of promise as a rookie Swede by the name of Daniel Alfredsson led the team in scoring and captured the Calder Trophy, the first and only major award an Ottawa player has ever won.
Today, Alfredsson is three points shy of 1,000 for his illustrious career, and still their leading scorer.
And the Senators are once again in the cellar.
Ah, but yes, it’s still October. There are 76 games remaining. There’s lots of time for them to get their act together.
If and when they do get moving, they’re going to have some hustling to do.
It took 88 points to qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs last season. For the Senators to get to that level, they’ll have to go 42-33-1, or the equivalent, the rest of the way.
Currently, they do not look like a team that can win more often than it loses. In fact, they do not look like much of a team at all.
“Obviously, we’re not happy,” said centre Mike Fisher, who has had one really strong game — which is one more than many of his teammates. “We know we can play much better.
“We can’t hang our heads. We can’t get frustrated, because that’s when things start to get worse. We’ve got to come together as a team. We’ve got to find a way.
“We can’t do anything about what’s happened so far. Just learn and find a way, individually. It starts with each and every guy in the room.”
The list of those underachieving starts with Alex Kovalev, who on Monday finally picked up his first point of the season and now has a goal and two assists in his last 23 games. There’s much more to the game than stats, of course, but Kovalev has brought very little, if anything at all. He is a minus-3, as is Chris Kelly, Chris Campoli, Zack Smith and Jesse Winchester. Worse than them have been Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson, both minus-4.
Nick Foligno, who had an outstanding pre-season, has just one assist since. He has maintained possession of his hold on the second line left wing job primarily because his main competition has been no better. Peter Regin, who toward the end of last season and in the playoffs was one of the Senators best players, has just one assist as well.
“I can be better than I have been so far this year,” said Regin. “I’ve just got to find a way to get back to my game. I think I’m skating good, and all the things are there, it’s just not working.”
Playing just two of their first six games at Scotiabank Place hasn’t helped matters, but their schedule is about to even out. After a trip to Buffalo to take on the also-desperate Sabres, the Senators will have a four-game homestand, with Montreal, Phoenix, Florida and Boston providing the opposition.
However, the way they played just half a game in each of their last two, they could also lose all four of them.
After Tuesday’s day off, coach Cory Clouston will have two practices with which to try and iron out the technical kinks. What he can do about getting players to focus and bear down for a full 60 minutes, who knows?
“When things are tough, when you’re struggling, you need your older players to step up and take charge,” Clouston said when asked if he expects the veterans to lead the way out of this fog. “But it is still a team. We can’t just single out one group of players or one specific area. We got ourselves into this, the only way we’re going to get ourselves out is as a team.”