SHORT HILLS, N.J. — In a season when none of the pieces have come together for the Senators, captain Daniel Alfredsson found an appropriate way to spend the break.
Trying to figure things out.
“We kind of hung out and made some puzzles,” said Alfredsson, who took his wife and kids to Mont-Tremblant. “Just enjoyed some time with the family.”
Alfredsson stayed mostly indoors to battle a cold, which also has its irony as his team entered the mid-season holiday absolutely frigid.
And it is here that the Senators hope history repeats itself.
“In reverse,” clarified coach Cory Clouston.
Yes, in reverse.
Last year the Senators entered the break one way and exited completely the opposite. They won 14 of 16 games before the Olympics, and in a whiplash turnaround were victorious in just one of 10 right after them.
Today’s Senators carry a six-game losing streak — and have lost 12 of 13 — as they resume their schedule Tuesday in New Jersey.
Now, they’d like to try something different.
“It was a good chance to get away from the stress and pressure, and both physically and mentally take a break, take a breather,” Clouston said of the four days off the team had before hitting the Sensplex ice at 2 p.m. Monday. “Energy in practice was good. We’re hoping they were able to step back, reflect and (now) move forward.”
On board currently are a pair of Binghamton callups — goalie Robin Lehner and forward Colin Greening. For Lehner, it is the fourth time he’s been summoned to the NHL this season. Clouston wouldn’t say whether he will start against the Devils — they may use him when the Senators play 24 hours later at Scotiabank Place vs, the Red Wings — but allow us to take this opportunity to again say, whythehellnot?
The last time they won a stinkin’ game, it was by a 6-4 count Jan. 13 in Long Island. Lehner was the goalie.
Brian Elliott, meanwhile, is currently riding an 11-game losing streak. He may need a longer break.
Greening is a 6-foot-3, 211-pound forward from Newfoundland who, after spending the past four years at Cornell, has showed steady improvement in his first pro season.
He’s expected to make his NHL debut on a line with Jesse Winchester and Peter Regin.
“I think it’s exciting for him ... you hope his excitement can spread through the dressing room.” said Jason Spezza, who continues to improve from a shoulder injury that has kept him out of 13 games and aims to be back for Saturday’s game in Long Island. “He’s a big, strong boy, I’m sure he’s going to play physical and give us a jolt of energy.
“When you see guys excited, maybe it makes you realize how lucky we are to be here and how lucky we are to still be playing.”
The Devils are a very much-improved hockey team under Jacques Lemaire, who replaced John Maclean behind the bench at Christmas.
“To me they are starting to play up to the level everyone thought they were going to,” said Clouston. “To me, it starts with Martin Brodeur.”
And facing one of the best goalies the league has known is probably not the ideal tonic for a team that has scored just 108 goals — second fewest in the league, behind the Devils (101) themselves.
Hard to imagine anybody will be taking the over.
“We’ve just got to push ourselves here, everyday, and try to get something going, especially offensively,” Alfredsson said of the final 32 games. “We want to be good defensively, but we’re having such a tough time scoring goals, and we need to get something going. If we can do that, we’ll get some more wins.”