January 22, 2012
Sens wary of California snowball effect
By Don Brennan, QMI Agency
LOS ANGELES — Sunburn, not snowballs, is what most would guess the Senators are trying to avoid in California.
But they’d be wrong.
Not since Nov. 9-11, in games against the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres, have the Senators had a “losing streak.” Not since then have they lost two consecutive games in regulation. Not since then have they gone two in a row without taking at least one point.
Their consistency is why, with 32 games to go, they are wedged into a playoff spot, five points back of the conference-leading Boston Bruins and nine up on the ninth place Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s definitely something that’s talked about,” Jason Spezza said Sunday of rebounding from defeats. “You try to win every game, but those games after the losses are real important because it can be kind of a snowball effect, if you lose a few in a row. We try to guard against losing a couple in a row ... It is something we’ve tried to pride ourselves on. Now we have some work to do (Monday).
“Good teams don’t lose too many games in a row. It keeps you up there in the standings.”
Beating the Kings will be a tough task. It always is. Especially here. The last time the Senators were victorious in L.A., Joe Juneau led the way with two goals, Shawn McEachern and Magnus Arvedson each had one and Radek Bonk had a pair of assists. Dan Bylsma had one of the Kings goals.
Yes, it was a long time ago — Jan. 11, 2000, to be exact — but it might stand out in your mind as it was also the only time the Senators have EVER won in Los Angeles, where they are 1-10-1 in franchise history.
“I think I’ve heard that a lot of times this year,” said Daniel Alfredsson.
“Going into Calgary, going into San Jose, Edmonton, Vancouver ... there’s a lot of places we haven’t won a lot. We’ve done a good job of changing a lot of those streaks this year. Hopefully L.A. is another one.”
In playing a team that’s actually been involved in more one-goal games than them (the Kings lead the league with 29, while Ottawa is at 26), coach Paul MacLean will give Craig Anderson his 13th straight start in goal.
He’s also leaning towards keeping Binghamton callups Mark Borowiecki and Andre Petersson in the lineup while re-inserting Bobby Butler, one of the few Senators who has struggled with consistency but also a guy who is tied for the team lead in game-winning goals with three.
This will be the second-last game for the Senators before the all-star break, and it’s important they don’t lose focus by letting their minds drift to upcoming vacations in tropical destinations.
“We feel like we’ve put ourselves in a good position, by doing what we’ve had to do in the first 50 games,” said Spezza. “Now a lot of the work begins. We’ve got a lot of divisional games coming up, a lot of four-point games.
“We have to play at about the same pace to make the playoffs ... We’re happy where we are but we’re not comfortable with where we are.”