FOR SENATORS, SOLUTIONS WILL HAVE TO BE INTERNAL
With Duchene coming over via trade route, options are finite for the general manager
As the Ottawa Senators prepared to skate onto the ice at the Honda Center Wednesday night, they spent the 48 hours since an ugly 5-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets searching for answers.
At this point, those are going to have to come from within.
While the possibility of a making a deal to try to get this team going on a consistent basis is always on the table, the reality is the options are limited for general manager Pierre Dorion. He already made a big deal to get Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche that has yet to have the desired impact.
Only the Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks are active in the trade market, which means there’s little for the Senators to choose from even if they want to make another deal to shake up their team. At this point, the reality is few players are playing up to their potential.
That’s why as the Senators prepared to face the Anaheim Ducks to start their trip the Golden State, coach Guy Boucher spent time pushing just about every button possible to try to get this team back on track because the best-case scenario for everybody involved is the club gets back to playing up to their capabilities.
Look, Boucher is well aware the Senators aren’t going to win every game between now and the end of the season, but he wasn’t the least bit pleased with the effort in Winnipeg because the players didn’t show up to even give themselves a decent opportunity to win the game.
If he saw that against the Ducks, then it was a step in the right direction.
“Right now, I need to see our team’s desperation,” Boucher said before facing the Ducks. “I saw it against the Islanders (in a 6-5 win Friday). I saw a team going to war and it took everything to win, and that’s what an NHL game is.
“It doesn’t matter who you play. It doesn’t matter where you play them. Every NHL game you go into is a war because every team can beat you and you can beat every team. When you don’t approach it that way, you have zero chance.
“If we want to have a chance to beat a physical, tough team at home, we have to give ourselves a chance and that chance is to come out with a battling mentality and being desperate and being relentless, and then we have a chance. It doesn’t mean we beat them, but we have a chance. That’s what we have to give ourselves, and that’s every player. It’s really about the entire team showing up.”
The Senators were suiting up for their 26th game of the season and Boucher spent Tuesday at practice in El Segundo, Calif., cracking the whip and going over exactly the way he wants the club to approach each game.
Does it bother Boucher that at this point of the season he’s still poring over the details?
“No, because you’re always looking for this,” Boucher said. “That’s the job of a coach and you talk to every coach in the league, and they’ll tell you that’s what they look for and every part of the season.
“It’s a normal process and some weeks and some months are great because for whatever reason things are rolling, goals are going in, goaltending’s great and all of a sudden you hit a few patches and whoops — the confidence gets a little lower and you’ve got to start back again. I always say (the) NHL is a race between Ferraris: If you’re a little off, that’s a lot, and that’s why we can’t be a little off.”
There’s no question the Senators faced a lot of adversity last year, when top goalie Craig Anderson left the team for personal leave to be with his wife Nicholle while she had treatment for a rare form of throat cancer for two months and the club lost winger Clarke MacArthur for most of the season with a concussion.
With a 1-7-1 record in nine games heading into Wednesday’s match, Boucher doesn’t feel like this is the most difficult stretch of his tenure with the team.
“It looks like that from the outside, but from the inside, there was a lot tougher things,” Boucher said. “Right now, there’s a lot of things we’re managing at the same time, but we’ve had a enough good games that we’ve lost so that we know that we’re right there.”
Now, the Senators need to start putting victories in the win column.