SPORTS

Senators head coach Cameron preaching simple approach heading into road trip

01/05/2015 05:05 EST | Updated 03/07/2015 05:59 EST
OTTAWA - Dave Cameron is preaching simplicity as the Ottawa Senators head out on a four-game, nine-day road trip.

Ottawa (16-15-7) is currently six points behind eighth-place Toronto (21-16-3) in the Eastern Conference standings but Cameron said his team can't afford to look too far ahead. The Senators kick off their road trip Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers (14-18-7), another team struggling to get into the playoff picture.

"I never look at it as a group of games," said Cameron. "I look at it as the next game and we have to get on a bit of a roll here.

"Our team isn't at the point where we can start looking at we should beat this team, we should beat that team. No, we have to prepare to beat every team and it's going to come down to how we play."

Ottawa is 5-4-2 since Cameron took over as head coach Dec. 8 but Cameron is far from satisfied. He believes a team's work ethic is a mirror to its effort in a game and Monday an unimpressed Cameron stopped practice and emphasized the importance of doing things right.

"It's about detail and it's about reminding," Cameron said. "The biggest thing you do in this profession is repeat, repeat, repeat and the other challenge is the length of the season so sometimes you have to as a coach generate emotion and the only way you generate emotion is if you're emotional.

"I felt there was a few things we could get better at and when you bring emotion into it I think it gives the players a little push that he's serious here and sometimes you have to do that."

The players are aware time is starting to run short but don't believe any one stretch of games is more important than the other.

"(This road trip) is as pivotal as the last four we played," said defenceman Chris Phillips. "Everything is big.

"We're in a situation right now where we have to win more games than we lose to get us back in the playoff run."

While Ottawa has been playing better of late, lapses continue to sneak into its game. During a 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, the Senators again struggled to play a consistent game for 60 minutes.

"That's a huge lesson for young guys coming in," said Phillips. "It's a letdown of one shift.

"Especially as time goes on, you almost end up playing the last quarter of the season as if every game is a playoff game and that's how tight the points are and that's how tight the games get so that one shift off can cost you the game and ultimately miss the playoffs . . . you have to be mentally focused to not take a shift off."

Veteran defenceman Marc Methot was back was back on the ice following a conditioning stint with AHL Binghamton. Methot was expected to play at least one more game with Binghamton but due to a strange schedule the Senators believed it was in Methot's best interest to return to Ottawa.

Ottawa could clearly use Methot, who has missed all but two games this season due to injury, but there's no immediate timetable for his return.

"We still need to work on some conditioning and some contact," said Cameron. "We're going to try and implement that now."

Methot hasn't played since his return in early December after being sidelined yet again by a nagging back-hip issue. The 29-year-old says he feels better and is hopeful to return to the lineup sometime soon.

"Yeah it's tough, but I'm at the point now that I'm confident in my game whenever I can get the opportunity to get back," said Methot. "There's only so much you can do.

"I'm not going to walk around with my head down and be a distraction on this team. I'm just going to stay positive and keep working hard and keep helping wherever I can. Really that's all you can do as a teammate."

NOTES: Goaltender Craig Anderson gets the start Tuesday . . . Centre Curtis Lazar, the captain of Canada's world junior team, is expected to rejoin the Senators in Philadelphia on Tuesday but is unlikely to play. The Senators have been pleased with Lazar's performance and expect him to be even better from the experience . . . Phillips says a number of players will get together in Philadelphia on Monday night to watch Lazar and his Canadian teammates take on Russia in the gold medal game at the Air Canada Centre.

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