BOSTON — Their spirits remain up despite the fact the Senators are going down.
Practice at Scotiabank Place Monday was to a good tempo and, in between the extra skating players were once again made to do, there were also drills that prompted both cheering and laughing.
Part of it had to do with a few goals being scored, no doubt.
Stuck in a five-game losing rut, players spoke of how important it is not to sulk. Apparently, the negative karma they get from the standings has no place in their room.
“There’s not a magical line, you just have to be positive,” respected team leader Chris Phillips said of the tone he tries to set. “Carry yourself in a positive manner, and be upbeat. Have fun when we’re on the ice, and joke when we’re off the ice. And go about it that way, and not get down, or be down. And show that to other guys.”
Tough when you’re 11 points out of a playoff spot and in need of a ridiculously successful run to play a Game 83?
“You know what? It isn’t, really,” said Phillips. “It’s obviously disappointing when you’re not winning, but you still get to come to the rink, still get to play the game we love to play. It’s when you stop joking and having fun, that’s probably when it’s time just to hang ’em up.
“It’s more than wins and losses. It’s about being with these guys all the time, and on the road.”
“I’m getting to that point now where you start getting towards the end of your career. Not that old, but you realize the game doesn’t go on forever. Just have fun and make the most of it while we’re here.”
Sounds a little older than the 32 years he is, no?
“I’ve got a couple of greys in the goatee,” Phillips cracked when asked if he feels like he’s aged a lot lately. “I’ve got to keep it shaved.”
Slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July, just how long Phillips remains in Ottawa is the question.
“It’s not easy,” he said of the constant queries regarding his status. “I realize that it’s part of the game. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll probably be answering the same questions. But when the questions are done, and you step on the ice, you forget about all that stuff. We’ll see how everything plays out, but yeah, it’s difficult, with the number of games I have played with this uniform on. and only this one.
“I wish I didn’t have to put it that way.”
On a team that has an aggregate minus-132, Phillips has slipped to a tie with Sergei Gonchar for low man on the pole. Both are minus-18.
“It’s a terrible stat,” Phillips joked when asked if it was reflective of his play.
“You can say, or look at games, where I’ve felt like I’ve played pretty good, and look at the stats after, and I might be minus-1 or minus-2, and you don’t really care, you’ve won the game. But those have added up a little bit. Not every game it’s reflective of how you’ve played.
“But you’re minus-18, you’ve been on for a lot of goals against. There are mistakes being made. It doesn’t matter by who ... It’s got to mean something. They just slowly mount up, or down, however you look at it. It’s not a pretty number to look at.”