SAN JOSE - If the Senators’ bubble was going to burst, you would have expected it to do so by now. It hasn’t, eh? Well, maybe under the hot California sun, where they start a four-game in six-day stretch Thursday against Western Conference teams, in their own time zone, who are at different levels of desperation.
GM Bryan Murray doesn’t think it’s going to happen, though. He looks at his team — the surprise of the NHL season with a 26-16-6 record and within a short saucer pass from the Eastern Conference lead — and he doesn’t see a crash and burn in its future.
He believes the Senators are for real.
“We play too hard every night, everybody plays too hard every night, to fall by the wayside,” Murray said Wednesday. “That’s the biggest thing for me. Night after night. If they did it once in awhile, but this group appear to believe so much in themselves an the group ... “
Still, he’s not going to officially proclaim himself a buyer just yet.
“I like our team,” said Murray, and with an 11-2-2 record in its last 15 games, what’s not to like? “We have to take a look as we go through this road trip. We have a tough schedule right now. If we can compete during the next 2 1/2-3 weeks, at least ...
“When you get into the playoffs, you know anything can happen. My thought has always been at deadline time that if you can add something to your team that the players believe is a good addition, that really adds a lot to your roster. They see we’re trying.
“I think our depth is okay right now, but we made need a substantial piece.”
“There ares always needs on every hockey team,” continued Murray, who has nothing if not plenty of bargaining chips. “I’m not going to be specific. But we brought up two young guys (Andre Petersson and Mark Borowiecki) to come on the trip with us because we’ve got two fairly big injuries (Peter Regin and Jesse Winchester), plus Brian Lee, a short-term guy. Injuries are going to happen in this game, when you’re playing back to back in particular, so we need depth. We need another player or two ... I was hoping they’d be available in the minors and they might well be, but certainly that would be one thing. But the other part is you always like guys who can play and put pucks in the net. If that kind of player is around, then obviously we would go after that.”
Deadline deals have not worked out so well for the Senators in the past, and this season there should be a greater concern about team chemistry, which has to be at its franchise highest.
“Chemistry is important for a team to be successful, but I think it’s something you work on and you build on from what you achieve and what you do in practice, what you do when you travel as a group,” said Daniel Alfredsson. “I think we’re a pretty tight group. We know that if we don’t play hard every night, we’re not going to win. We don’t expect anything else of ourselves. We try not to get caught up in everything, either.
“We try to get prepared for the next game and do the best we can. We cannot lose sight of that. It’s easy, with everybody saying halfway through the season, ‘are they for real, are they not?’ We just try to stay in the present and go about our business.
Players aren’t sitting around fretting about their chemistry being damaged by a trade.
“For one, it’s one of those things we can’t control,” said Alfredsson. “For managers, it’s something they consider before doing anything as well. We believe in our management, with Bryan and (assistant GM) Tim (Murray) and everybody else, that they’ll do what’s right for the team. We don’t have any worries that should effect us negatively at all.”
Murray admitted that either way, there’s at least a little less pressure on him to get an impact, Top 6 forward because he already has done so. Kyle Turris, with 11 points in 15 games since being acquired Dec. 17, is turning out to be that guy.
“I was around our scouts (at meetings) last week and we watched three games on TV,” said Murray. “Everybody was happy. Everybody’s pleased with what they see they’ve contributed to the organization. That’s what we’re in it for.
“We evaluate every player in the league. We do depth charts of every team, we look at the teams that look like they’re going to have a tough time down the stretch to make the playoffs, then we take players on that team that might be unrestricted or might be available. Those are the people we talked about. We’ve got a bit of a handle on that now.