VANCOUVER — If the game was played on paper, the Senators would get shredded Monday night at General Motors Place.
Category upon category, they are no match for the Canucks.
If they aren’t currently the worst team in the league, it’s only because the Oilers own that distinction. The NHL’s version of the Toilet Bowl is slated for Rexall Place on Saturday — Hockey Day in Canada, by the way. Don’t ya dare miss it.
The Canucks, meanwhile, are currently the best team in the world. They sit atop the NHL’s overall standings after winning their past sfive games by a combined count of 23-6.
The Senators have lost nine in row and 15 of their last 16.
After losing to the lowly Islanders, they have to figure out a way to stop the best line in hockey — Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. In the last meeting between the teams, that threesome combined for six points in a 6-2 pounding of Ottawa.
Maybe if the Senators challenged them to a different sport ...
“We have to respect who they are,” coach Cory Clouston said of the line that features the league’s second and fourth-leading scorers, the twins Daniel and Henrik. “Understand when they’re on the ice, manage the puck ... putting the puck in safe plays if you don’t have a play. Not forcing something because they are such a good team on transition. When to take advantage of an opening and when to keep it simple.
“Almost like a rugby game, where you’re not always trying to score, you’re trying to advance the ball, keep it safe.
“Sometimes you’re out there in a situation where you’re trying to give yourself momentum and not give them momentum, and try to shut them down and frustrate them a little bit.”
Good luck with that.
Clouston will announce Monday morning which of goalies Brian Elliott and Robin Lehner he is throwing to the wolves. Lehner played well in relief of a shaky Elliott in Long Island, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll start.
“We just need to make the save, we need to make the stops, and we need to give them support,” said Clouston.
Meanwhile, frustrations are mounting with the losses.
“I think everyone is frustrated,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “It wears on you, there’s no question.”
But the Senators are looking forward to a challenge that doesn’t get any bigger.
“When you play the better teams, for us, it’s brought out the best,” said Alfredsson.