Senators Watch: Home sweet home

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Thankfully, the Ottawa Senators have relieved some of the parking lot congestion problems they were having after home games. Now all they have to do is figure out how to keep people from wanting to throw their televisions out the window after road games.

According to the Senators, waiting time in the parking lot after games has been reduced from 31 to 23 minutes this season and people only have to emit greenhouse gas emissions from their cars for 11.5 minutes after starting them. That might have something to do with the fact that going into Tuesday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, the team’s attendance at Scotiabank Place was down more than 1,600 from last season.

But with a 10-3-3 record (going into Tuesday night) at home, the Senators clearly have things figured out on their home turf. But after limping home from a Boston/western United States road swing with just three of a possible 10 points, clearly the Senators have some work to do on the road.

The Senators currently sit with a 4-7-1 mark away from home, which is a large reason why they’re hanging onto a playoff spot with their fingernails these days instead of having one firmly in their grips. Teams in the NHL rarely have any significant success if they can’t win on the road and the Senators will almost certainly not buck that trend if they don’t begin playing better away from Ottawa.

And with the Senators having played four more games at home than on the road, those road dates are going to catch up at some point and the lost points in the standings could prove fatal.

When team owner Eugene Melnyk basically called out Jason Spezza and Alexei Kovalev last weekend, he probably wanted to see them play better both at home and on the road. That’s certainly the case with Kovalev, who has been equally unproductive in both places, sporting identical 2-5-7 totals at home and on the road. (That means he has actually been better on the road, but seven points in 11 road games simply doesn’t cut it.)

Jason Spezza has just 1-4-5 totals in 11 road games and even bigger producers such as Mike Fisher (4-3-7 in 11 games) and Milan Michalek (5-2-7 in 12 games) probably have more to give.

In what should come as a surprise to no one, Senators captain and inspirational leader Daniel Alfredsson goes about his business on the road quite productively, scoring five goals and 12 points in 12 games.

Nobody is expecting the Senators to be Murderers’ Row away from home, but unless they get better on unfamiliar ice, they’re going to continue to be life and death to make the playoffs this season.

This article also appeared in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.

Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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