No firings, no trades, only poor David Hale was sent packing to Binghamton as the reeling Senators regrouped one day after another sorry performance on home ice.
They’ve now lost three of their last four at Scotiabank Place — where they are supposed to be the kings of the castle — and all to Western Conference teams who were out of the playoff picture when they visited Ottawa.
As if such behaviour wasn’t embarrassing enough, now their coach is calling them names in public.
Cory Clouston says his players are “fragile.” Ouch. What kind of a man stands for being referred to as fragile? That’s like questioning his very manhood.
Maybe the Senators don’t need a tough defenceman, a gritty forward or somebody who can score goals ... as much as they need Dr. Phil.
“We felt we addressed the things we needed to on the ice,” Clouston said after Friday’s practice. “We’ve talked to some of the players ... we’ve just got to keep trying to stay positive and trying to work through this.
“We’ve had real good starts in four straight games,” he added. “We’ve had leads in three of the four games after the first period. When things are going a little bit south, we don’t right now have that push-back, whether it’s confidence or emotional strength right now, to just sustain it. Getting over that mental and emotional barrier is our first priority.”
Unscramble the letters above and the message we see is right there. It says the Senators are a bunch of cream puffs. Especially at home, where they are 7-7 and supposed to roar like lions.
Don’t think a change in the coach or manager is the answer. Maybe he needs to fiddle with his system, but it looks like Clouston works hard and knows the game. And Bryan Murray has put the pieces in place that should be good enough to get this team into the playoffs.
Oh, they’ve got a lot of shortcomings, and they don’t have a realistic prayer in hell of winning the Cup.
But they’re certainly better than they’ve been playing, and they should be able to qualify for the post-season.
They’ve just got to want it a lot more than it looks like they do. They’ve just got to compete a lot harder than it looks like they’ve been competing.
“When things aren’t going well, it’s tough,” said Mike Fisher. “You build energy, you build confidence, through winning and making good things happen. When that’s not there, it can be draining and you kind of lose energy. We have to find little ways to play right together.
“When you look at years past when we’ve gone on streaks, it’s not because we’re working any harder. It’s because we’re working smarter, we’re doing little things, and all of a sudden you’re playing with adrenalin because you’re excited. We’ve got to get that feeling back.
“That being said,” Fisher added, “I think at times we definitely need to work harder. Everyone in here wants to win. We care. We’ve got a great group of guys. But we’ve definitely got to get back to putting the hard hat on, for sure.
“It’s no fun losing.”
In fumbling away eight of their last 11 games (during which they’ve scored a grand total of 17 goals, in case you’ve forgotten) the Senators, as of Friday afternoon, were tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference.
That sounds better than it is. They were also six points behind the Thrashers, who sit in eighth, and just three points ahead of the Maple Leafs, were in 13 and had two games in hand on Ottawa.
“I haven’t looked at the standings in a long time, to be totally honest,” said Fisher. “We know where we’re at. We don’t have to look at the standings. We need wins. We’ve got to find ways to build confidence and get things going.”
Clouston says he feels the players are still listening to his message, based on the way they’ve started their most recent games.
Daniel Alfredsson says the overall talent is at least to the level it was last season.
“I feel we’ve got a good team,” said Alfredsson. “That’s why it’s even more frustrating. We’re not getting the most out of ourselves. We’ve just got to keep working and believing.”
In the meantime, the season appears to be slipping through their fingers.
“Everybody knows the standings, the situation,” said Alfredsson. “And that the bigger the gap, the tougher it is to gain ground. It’s too early to say it’s slipping away. We know the situation. Every game is important for us. We can’t give any games away.”
Especially at home, where the fragile Senators have been way too hospitable.