Sens must 'play playoff hockey'

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:55 PM ET

CHICAGO — The job now for the Senators is to get back into the playoff picture and save some jobs.

After a five-day break in the schedule and everybody in the organization feeling the heat to get things turned around, the struggling Senators go back to work Friday night against the Blackhawks.

While coach Cory Clouston didn't get a vote of confidence from GM Bryan Murray on Wednesday, he certainly isn't the only one feeling the heat.

The Senators were nothing short of brutal in last Saturday's 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Place. If they have many more efforts like that, the post-season will be nothing but a dream.

If the playoffs do become only a dream, Murray will start trading players.

"Any time a team struggles, whether it's players or coaches, we know with management there could be changes," defenceman Chris Campoli said following a 45-minute practice at the United Center.

"We know it starts in the (dressing) room. I would imagine that the players would be in the same boat (as the coaching staff) if we don't change things. So we've gotta turn things around. We know that. The coaches coach us and give us every chance to win. Now, we've got to go to it."

Murray was livid when he met with the players before practice Wednesday. He let them know the losing can't continue and some players had better start living up to expectations.

Friday's game vs. Chicago and Saturday's at home against the Lightning (the Bolts are already in Ottawa waiting for the Senators) could go a long way to determining the fate of this team.

If the Senators lose both games, major changes could be made and not just with the coaching staff.

"I'm sure you can look at it that way," captain Daniel Alfredsson said when asked if the players realized they have to save some people's jobs.

"For us, if we do what we can on the ice, everything will take care of itself. If that means saving people's jobs, then great. I mean, we're all in this together. It's not like we're all pulling in different directions.

"We know the tough situation that we're in. For us, the biggest thing is trying to make the playoffs."

The Senators, who sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, are confident they can turn it around in time to make the post-season.

A win over the Blackhawks would be a good start.

"It's desperation time. We've got to play playoff hockey," said winger Chris Neil. "You've got to have that mentality that you're going to go out and work hard every shift, game-in and game-out.

"There are no nights off. We've got to be ready to go and we've got our work cut out for us. But we've got a good group of guys in here who can do it. It's just a matter of getting confidence back and starting with a clean slate. We've got to string some wins together and once that happens, you never know what's going to happen."

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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