March 27, 2012
By Bruce Garrioch, QMI AGENCY
The Senators had Tuesday off to sit back, relax and scoreboard-watch like everybody else in the city.
Coming off a 6-4 victory over the Jets on Monday in Winnipeg, the Senators arrived home in the wee hours of the morning , so coach Paul MacLean gave them the day off with a four-day break in the schedule.
Before facing the Flyers and Islanders in back-to-back matinee road games Saturday and Sunday, the Senators will have a good idea where they stand by the time their schedule resumes.
Nobody in the Ottawa dressing room was sure if they wanted the Sabres or Capitals to win when they battled Tuesday night at the Verizon Centre, but the only result they didn’t want was OT or a shootout.
“I don’t know,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said when asked if he was pulling for the Sabres or Caps. “Whatever happens, happens. Most teams are playing pretty good right now. Preferably, if you could have any choice, you would hope that one team wins in regulation.”
The Senators aren’t in the playoffs yet, but their situation looks a lot better than it did after Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal.
Two straight victories and four big points means a lot to the post-season push.
Had the Senators lost against the Jets, this would have been an anxious week. Instead, they’ve kept themselves in the driver’s seat in the Eastern Conference standings.
“Whatever situation you are in, you’ve got to deal with it. If we would have lost (Monday), we would have dealt with that and done the best we could with those circumstances. We can control what we do,” said Alfredsson.
“As the golfer would, you always anticipate the other player to make their putt. We have to expect (the teams chasing Ottawa) will win their games and we’ve got to keep pushing ourselves.”
The Senators don’t mind the break after a difficult stretch of three games in four days.
“It’s weird that we have all the games lumped together and then have some days off,” said centre Jason Spezza, who eclipsed the 80-point plateau for the fourth time in his career with three assists in Winnipeg.
“We welcome the four days (off) at this time of year. The body is not quite feeling as good as it was early in the season. You want to rest.
“We can sit back and watch a couple of games. We feel like we’re in a place where can dictate our own future. If we win games, we’re going to make the playoffs. There won’t be a ton of scoreboard-watching as long as we (get) the wins.”
Spezza said the rest is much-needed.
“There’s not a guy in the room that’s not playing a little bit banged up,” said Spezza. “The games are that much more intense. The speed picks up this time of year. You welcome the four days.
“We feel good about ourselves. Having (three) practices coming off a loss isn’t always the most fun thing, so (the win) gives us extra motivation to have a good week.”