Senators' task 'not impossible'

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:28 PM ET

Senators GM John Muckler is a big fan of the Boston Red Sox.

Remember them?

They were the last team in any major pro sport to rally from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs, beating the mighty New York Yankees in 2004 en route to winning the World Series.

"I think about that a lot," said Muckler yesterday. "That just shows that it can be done. Is it difficult? Yes, but it's not impossible.

"Nothing is impossible."

The Senators are in the same predicament. Trailing 3-1 against the Buffalo Sabres in their Eastern Conference semi-final, Ottawa needs a victory in Game 5 tonight at Scotiabank Place to extend their season.

The Senators took the first step toward survival with a 2-1 win Thursday night at HSBC Arena. Now they need to build on it. The good news: The Sabres are not the Yankees ... not even close.

"A lot of it depends on the makeup of your team and I know we're not an inferior team to Buffalo," said Muckler. "Those first three games of this series could have gone either way. It's not like we were blown out. That may have had more to do with our mental state.

"It's all about your mindset at this time of year. We've gotten ourselves into this and now we have to dig ourselves out of it. The big thing we have to do is just stay positive. We had a better performance in (Game 4). Now we have to build on it."

Muckler knows of what he speaks. In 1990, he coached an Edmonton Oilers team that appeared dead after falling behind the Winnipeg Jets by a 3-1 count in the playoffs.

Standing in the dressing room, Muckler posed a question to his players: "So, has anybody in this room ever been in this kind predicament before?"

"(Joe) Murphy says, 'Yeah, we were last year in Adirondack. We were down 3-0, we came back and won 4-3,' " said Muckler. "Then (Adam Graves) stands up and says, 'And guess who scored the winning goal?' Well, there was a huge roar of laughter in the dressing room. We just stayed positive and we went on to win the Stanley Cup that year."

Muckler isn't ready yet to predict the Senators will rise from the ashes to win the Cup. But he saw enough positives Thursday to believe they've made a step in the right direction.

"I really thought we came out in the first period and took the play to them," said Muckler. "Ray Emery made the big saves and probably played his best game of the series. That's what you need to be successful in the playoffs. I saw a lot of good, positive things."

The Senators still don't have any margin for error. But if they get a win tonight, pressure on the Sabres to close out the series at home Monday will be massive.

"Look, there's pressure on both sides," said Muckler. "But we know what type of team we are and I think Buffalo knows what type of team we are. I'm sure they're expecting that we're going to come out even harder (tonight) than we did in (Game 4). That's when we play our best hockey, when we dictate the play."

When he looks around the Senators dressing room, Muckler sees a group he believes can find a way out of this mess.

"I know a lot has been said about the fact that only two teams in (NHL) history have come back from being down 3-0," said Muckler. "It has been done before and I feel like this team could be one that could do it again.

"No, it's not going to be easy. We're going to have to battle hard. I'm sure a little doubt slipped into the Buffalo Sabres (Thursday) with the way we played. I'm quite certain that we got their attention and I know we're going to be excited about playing at home. We just have to keep pushing."

To steal a line from Team 1200 radio analyst Gord Wilson: "Why be history when you can be part of it?"

Maybe that's what the Red Sox were thinking.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos