OTTAWA - Bryan Murray warned the work is not done.
As the Senators wrap up a four-day break in the schedule and go back to work Saturday against the Flyers in Philly, the Ottawa GM thinks it will take three more victories in the team’s final five games to secure a playoff spot.
Though Murray couldn’t be more pleased with the way the Senators have performed, he won’t be satisfied until the club has returned to the post-season for the first time since 2010.
“The way we’ve played the last couple of games I’m really positive that good things are going to happen here,” Murray said in a conference call Thursday. “You have to count on getting around 94 points.
“That means we have to win three hockey games and it’s not going to be easy, but the way that we’re playing, I feel good about it.”
Though the Senators weren’t picked by many to make the playoffs, Murray said he feels like this team belongs.
“A lot of veteran guys who we talked about had down years last year,” said Murray. “It goes hand-in-hand overall with team performance and situations a year ago that we didn’t handle very well.
“With the changes that we made, if we can get in to (the playoffs), we can do anything if we get in.”
This season has been a roller-coaster ride for the Senators, especially after they started with a 1-5 record. The club’s young players like Erik Condra, Zack Smith, Bobby Butler and Kaspars Daugavins have struggled at times.
Murray said it’s no surprise that veterans Daniel Alfredsson, Filip Kuba, Chris Phillips, Chris Neil, Sergei Gonchar and Craig Anderson have stepped up their games. Of course, Erik Karlsson remains a dynamic force.
The Senators have also struggled with consistency at times this season.
“If you don’t play your best it’s difficult to win,” said Murray. “For the most part, teams are very competitive and there are a lot of factors that go into winning.
“You have to have goaltending, you have to get everybody playing and, as we have the last couple of games, the veteran guys carrying the ball most of the time. I just think when you get off the fine line of being the best that you can be, it’s hard to win unless everybody is on board.”
STATUS QUO IN GOAL
The Senators aren’t going to make any changes with their goalies with Ben Bishop nursing a lower-body injury. Alex Auld will dress as Anderson’s backup on the weekend and rookie Robin Lehner won’t be recalled from AHL Binghamton.
Murray said the freak injury to Anderson (cutting his tendon while separating frozen chicken in his kitchen) that forced him to miss a month could be a blessing in disguise because it forced him to take some rest.
If Anderson hadn’t been hurt, he would have likely played 70 games this season.
There was concern if that was the case, Anderson might not have anything left for the post-season. He has looked good in his past two appearances.
“That was one of the things we talked about after it happened: If we could just tread water, play .500 until he gets back, it might be (good) that he gets some rest,” admitted Murray.
“One of the things I’d heard in the past is that if he played 70-some games, he’d be tired getting in the playoffs. So I think long-term, we can benefit from it, but we sure didn’t like it at that time, there’s no question at the time. Hopefully, if we get in, it will pay benefits then.”