WINNIPEG _ The Senators made a move in the wrong direction in the standings Friday.
They fell further back.
As they prepare to wrap up this four-game road trip Saturday afternoon at the MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets, the Senators sit six points back of the Detroit Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the East with only 19 games left.
I calculated it the other day: My guess is they need to 12-3-4 in the final 19 games to have a hope. Now they don’t have winger Clarke MacArthur either.
They also need a lot better effort than they got during that dog and pony show in Calgary the other night.
Give the Flames credit, they worked hard.
The Senators didn’t seem to know what the word work meant.
The club had an 80-minute practice in Calgary Friday before taking an afternoon flight here. Chris Neil and Jared Cowen exchanged a few punches. There was a little passion.
It was odd. I can’t recall this team ever holding that long a skate the day before a game. There is no morning skate today so it’s not like they have to spend any energy this morning.
Still. You don’t see it. That’s why it will be very interesting to see the first 10 minutes today and how they react.
Winning is the only way they make the playoffs and even then that may not be good enough.
Have a nice weekend.
EDMONTON _ Just sitting in the press box at Rexall Place waiting for the puck drop between the Senators.
Talk surfaced that Jason Spezza has been mentioned in trade talks.
I don’t think now is the right time. You won’t get value.
I do believe this is something the club may look at in the off-season. He will be a year away from unrestricted free agency and if they want to get true value _ like the club did for Alexei Yashin (the last time they traded a No. 1 centre _ then teams are in a better position to retool at the NHL entry draft.
The club is trying to get winger Chris Stewart from the Buffalo Sabres but the asking price remains high. There are a few teams involved here GM Tim Murray is trying to get the best possible deal that he can.
Defenceman Jared Cowen is a healthy scratch for a second straight game tonight. Interesting. He won’t be dealt. They just want to send a message that he has to be better.
The break finally ends Thursday night.
The Senators start the road to trying to make the playoffs with the Detroit Red Wings in town. A massive two points on the line.
For 18 days, the Senators trailed the Wings by one point for the final playoff spot. Today, the gap is three. If they lose tonight in regulation, the gap is five.
This is an uphill battle.
Sportsclubstats.com gives the Senators a 26.4% chance of making the post-season. Those are long odds. They’ll plunge if they don’t beat the Red Wings. There is no reason Ottawa shouldn’t: The club has played well against Detroit this season and the Wings played Wednesday night in Montreal.
The club even had to go to OT to get a win.
You have to wonder if the Senators suffer a couple of losses before the trade deadline the club’s approach will change. GM Bryan Murray wants to be a buyer badly. He wants to get a powerful winger who can help out with the scoring.
If they lose tonight and in Vancouver Sunday does that change the way the organization looks at the deadline?
It’s interesting because the race is so tight.
One loss can be so devastating. Hang on it’s going to be a wild ride in the final 23 games. Leafs aren’t sitting pretty either with lots of teams chasing. Should be fun.
Stay tuned here throughout the trade deadline.
Canada wins 1-0 over United States.
Victory is ours.
A country will rejoice.
I sat with Al Strachan at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Sitting nearby was Mike Brophy then with The Hockey News.
Canada scored and he kind of cheered.
Then, he quickly apologized to Al and I: “Sorry about that.”
Al said: “It’s okay to be Canadian today Mike. You don’t have to apologize.”
I will never forget that day. I will never forget the fans breaking out into Canada in the final 30 seconds so that it finished right as the buzzer sounded to signify gold.
Canada looked great in its 1-0 victory over the States in the semi-final Sunday.
The country played hard. The country played smart. In the words of coach Paul MacLean, they put the work boots on and got the job done.
A challenge lays ahead: The Swedes.
This is the opponent Daniel Alfredsson wanted. He told CBC he lived in Canada so long he’d like to see the country in the final. He’ll get his wish.
The road to gold is there for Canada. Another strong effort is needed.
Just remember Sunday: It’s okay to be Canadian.
Have had some quiet time on the break _ mostly at home. Like my use of the photo? You can teach an old dog new tricks (thanks Don Wilcox).
Stayed in Boston an extra day to do some shopping and take in the Faneuil Hall marketplace along with a good place for pastry called Mike’s in the North End.
Boston is a great a city to just walk. We stayed neared Boston Common. Also went for breakfast at a place called The Paramount. Historical old place in Beacon Hill. Well worth the visit. Okay, enough of the travel itinerary.
The Senators are off until next Wednesday at 2 p.m.
They’ve scattered all over the place. Erik Karlsson is with Sweden and Milan Michalek is with the Czech Republic.
When the Senators return they will have 23 games to make the playoffs. The task will not be easy. They have much work to do. A check of sportsclubstats.com (the site NHL owners uses) says the club has 26.7% chance of making the post-season. They sit one point behind the Detroit Red Wings.
The Senators need to find consistency when they return. That’s what this is all about for them now. If they can find consistency they will be okay. If not, they will land out of the playoffs. Captain Jason Spezza certainly needs to be one of those who is there every night.
We’ll get this blog up and running again next week. Enjoy the break. It’s odd to not to be able to turn on Centre Ice every night and pick a game. Mind you waking up to hockey is good as well. So, will Canada win gold?