OTTAWA - Jason Spezza has some advice for all those Senators’ faithful poised to hit the panic button.
“We’ve got to take a deep breath and just relax,” said the club’s alternate captain.
Coming off a disgraceful 5-0 beating at the hands of the arch-rival Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday at Scotiabank Place that extended the Senators losing streak to six games, the players had Sunday off to lick their wounds.
The Senators woke up sitting in the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re still in the playoff picture, all is not lost and they’ve got three games left at home this week, starting with Tuesday’s visit by the St. Louis Blues.
“You’ve got to look at the whole picture,” said Spezza Saturday. “Our last two weeks have been really bad and we’ve lost games that we shouldn’t have lost and we’ve blown some leads that we shouldn’t have blown.
“You have to look at the season as a whole. We’re happy to be in this position and now we’ve got some important games down the stretch. We’ve put ourselves in a position to play some important games. Take a breath (Sunday) and come back to work on Monday.”
But the Senators haven’t left themselves a lot of breathing room.
The Leafs are only one point back in eighth, while the ninth-place Washington Capitals are three points behind the Senators, but have three games in hand.
The Senators are in a precarious position. They have been shut out at home in two of their past three games and outscored 20-8 during the six-game slide. Many of their top scorers are also slumping.
Coach Paul MacLean noted after the loss to the Leafs that the Senators have dealt with adversity before when they started the season 1-5 and were able to bounce back.
But now, there are playoff expectations attached.
“The way we play the game is more suited to playing in big games,” said Spezza. “We feel like we’re trying to build a foundation here. We’re different. We lose games now, but we’re not as far off as we were at the start of the year.
“What we’re doing is not completely off-base and how we have to play. We just have to tweak things a little bit and make sure we do things better.”
The Senators’ top players, such as Milan Michalek, Daniel Alfredsson, Kyle Turris, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Neil, Filip Kuba, Nick Foligno and Spezza, have to step up.
“We just have to find a way to do a little bit more. Not a whole, whole lot more,” said MacLean. “We have to be better on special teams. I think our best players need to be our best players, just like every other team in the league.
“We don’t have to (have) anything spectacular by any individual or (anything). We just have to come and play a good solid game from start to finish. When our team is good, our best players are good. When our team isn’t good, our best players aren’t good.”
The Senators are hopeful they have learned from the past and can find a way out of this slump.
“Hopefully we can draw from our experience,” said defenceman Jared Cowen. “Everybody has been in a slump before individually. We’ve all just got to realize that we’re all good players, we just have do our jobs.”
That would be a good start.