Senators are not in tune

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:32 PM ET

Absolutely everybody with the Senators is under fire.

The list of offenders grows daily. Friday, fans were calling for the heads of GM Bryan Murray and coach Cory Clouston. At various points this season, Sergei Gonchar has been called a free-agent bust ... centre Mike Fisher needs a change of scenery. On it goes.

But as the Senators wrap up a four-game homestand Saturday night at Scotiabank Place against the Sabres, they are trying not to let the waft of negativity sink the dressing room.

“We’ve talked about this as a group: (The solutions) have got to come from everyone in this dressing room,” said Fisher. “We can’t be pointing fingers at each other.

“As soon as you start doing that, it just gets worse and worse. We’ve all got to accept what’s happened, be accountable and do something about it.”

A loss to Buffalo would drop the Senators under .500 at home this season.

Ottawa has lost 7-of-9 and is coming off Thursday’s miserable 4-0 blanking at the hands of Dany Heatley and the Sharks.

No wonder Clouston agreed this could be the biggest challenge of his coaching career.

“We played poorly at times last year, and we were able to get ourselves back on track, but we’ve just got to use that to remind ourselves that we’ve been in this situation before,” said Clouston.

“We’ve got to look back to what we did before and then we’ll get it (done). It’s easy to kick a team when (it’s) down. If I felt (the players) weren’t working hard in practice, if they weren’t having good starts being energized and ready to start the game, it’s a different situation.

“When we sit back, evaluate our starts and how we’ve played before the game starts to drop off, to me that’s a matter of confidence and just trusting your game. When you don’t trust your game, you don’t have the confidence. It starts to go downhill.”

Too bad the canal’s not ready. The Senators used a skate in New York’s Central Park in January to help halt a six-game losing streak last season and turned their season around.

This season, the Senators have played 25 games and are in danger of slipping out of the playoff race.

Owner Eugene Melnyk is results-driven and he’s not getting them.

So, are the jobs of Murray and Clouston, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts, safe?

Suddenly, Clouston and the players are facing questions about whether the coaching staff’s message is getting through.

“I don’t think that’s an issue at all,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “It’s a matter of us not having the confidence or the trust (in each other).

“When you’re winning, you don’t force things, it happens naturally. You don’t press things when you don’t need to and that’s where we are now. It’s frustrating for everybody involved.”

The Senators understand the pressure they’re facing to get things turned around.

“Every little play seems like it is the end of the world and when you make a bad play, every mistake you make seems like it compounds,” said centre Jason Spezza.

“When you’re losing, it’s tough. That’s what we have to get out of: When you’re losing, you can’t mope around and let these losses continue. Whether it’s changing things or being a little sharper.”

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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