January 9, 2012
Sens need to be road warriors
By Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
PITTSBURGH - The Senators will soon find out if they’re kings of the road.
Coach Paul MacLean cancelled Monday’s practice and rewarded the players with rest before they boarded an afternoon charter to Pittsburgh to begin a long stretch away from home.
Trying to stay in the playoff race after passing the midway point of the schedule, the Senators will play nine of their next 10 on the road, including 8-of-9 before the NHL’s all-star break later this month.
They packed their bags for a three-game trip that starts Tuesday against in Pittsburgh with stops in New York and Montreal. After making a quick journey home Monday to face the Winnipeg Jets, they head to Toronto to start a five-game tour that includes four games in California.
“We have to take it one game at a time. We really have to try to be short-sighted,” said centre Jason Spezza, who is tied for 12th in NHL scoring with 42 points.
“It can be a daunting task if we look ahead at the schedule and see how many road games we have. We’ve put ourselves in a good position. Getting points on the road is tough. It would be nice to start with some wins in the East.”
Sitting as the No. 5 seed with 50 points in 42 games, the Senators can’t afford to get too comfortable.
Going into Monday night’s action, the ninth-place Jets were only five points back, with 45.
The potentially explosive Washington Capitals were another point back.
The Senators are going to have to keep up their torrid pace, especially during this stretch, if a trip back to the playoffs in the spring is going to be reality.
They’ve got plenty of confidence as they hit the road, with only one loss in their past six games.
“We have to focus on what we can control,” said goalie Craig Anderson, who picked up his 20th victory of the season with 33 saves against the Flyers in a 6-4 victory Sunday.
“Everybody is going to go through stretches where they’re going to be on the road.
“Maybe ours might be a little tougher than other teams, but I’m sure there are other teams that have a tough stretch on the road as well. We’ve just got to find a way to take it one game at a time and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
A LITTLE RECOGNITION
Anderson was given a pat on the back Monday. He was named the NHL’s third star of the week.
He finished last week with a 3-0-1 record, 2.41 GAA and .929 save percentage in four games. Anderson scored his 20th win Sunday vs. Philly.
“I’m just focusing on the things I can control and making the next save for the guys regardless of the score,” said Anderson. “(The 20 wins) shows the amount of character we have in this room.”
Anderson leads the NHL in games (38), shots faced (1,210) and saves (1,010). His save percentage is .902.
C Jesse Winchester isn’t ready to return from his concussion. He has resumed skating, but didn’t make the trip. Winchester has missed nine games.