Sports

Slumping Senators carry six-game losing skid into lengthy road trip

New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) wraps up Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone (61) during third period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Saturday November 25, 2017. Things look bleak for the Senators these days as they're mired in a six-game losing streak, but the message is to stay the course. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak (41) wraps up Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone (61) during third period NHL hockey action in Ottawa, Saturday November 25, 2017. Things look bleak for the Senators these days as they're mired in a six-game losing streak, but the message is to stay the course. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — If the Ottawa Senators are going to find a quick remedy for their sagging fortunes, it will have to come on the road.

The Senators (8-8-6) have yet to win since a two-game series against the Colorado Avalanche in Sweden earlier in November, going 0-5-1 since. They will now hit the road for seven games in 15 days as curling's Roar of the Rings takes over Canadian Tire Centre. The trip starts Wednesday against division rival Montreal.

"I think there's a lot of hesitation in our game right now," said forward Derick Brassard. "We're making good plays, but when it's crunch time to put it in I think we're hesitating a bit.

"It starts in practice, it starts with good habits and eventually it will come and it will give confidence to everyone."

Brassard is one player who could use a shot of confidence, with zero goals over his last 14 games. Bobby Ryan has yet to score through the 14 games he's played, Matt Duchene has one goal in eight games since being acquired from Colorado by the Senators, while star defenceman Erik Karlsson has one goal in 17 games and is pointless through this six-game streak.

They can't shoulder all of the blame. Through this six-game funk, the Senators have been outscored 21-8 and the power play has been an abysmal 1-for-23 (4.3 per cent).

Head coach Guy Boucher said he had yet to decide on a starting goaltender for Wednesday night, but neither Craig Anderson or Mike Condon have been difference makers of late.  The two have combined for a 3.50 goals-against-average and .873 save percentage.

This is the Senators longest losing streak since Boucher took over in May 2016, but Brassard said long slumps are something every NHL team goes through.

"We feel we're playing good hockey, it's just that things aren't going well for us right now," Brassard said. "Every team goes through this and we just need to adjust a few things. Adversity builds character and it’s the way you work through this as a team. It's not about trying to fix things individually, it's about working as a team and I like our chances."

Boucher said the addition of Duchene and Gabriel Dumont, the return of Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith from injury and the loss Mike Hoffman and Mark Borowiecki to injury have created some chemistry challenges for the Senators.

"I have to be honest it's a transition period," Boucher said. "It's a lot of new things at the same time that we're trying to manage, but we're moving along. It's very positive."

After facing Canadiens, who have won two straight since the return of star goaltender Carey Price, the Senators are off to New York take on the Islanders. The team will stop in Winnipeg before heading to California for games against Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. Ottawa will then head back east to wrap things up against Buffalo.

Notes: Borowiecki will not be on the trip as he continues to recover from a concussion and has not resumed skating. Hoffman will be meeting with doctors to determine the best course of action for his torn hamstring.

More on Metronews.ca