The Senators open a mini 2 game road trip in Newark where they will face Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils. Like Lehner, Schnieder seems to have the Senators' number, posting a 6-1-1 record in 8 games, with a GAA of 1.59 and a SP of .945.
With a road heavy schedule for the rest of this month (1 home game, 6 on the road) including 2 stops in the swamp (is it still really the swamp after they moved out of the Meadowlands or is all of New Jersey a swamp?), tonight and next Tuesday night, they need to get their road legs going early.
The Senators won't enjoy last change, which means everyone will have to be aware at both ends of the ice, and nobody can take a shift off, because Buffalo was a good example that you can't take anyone lightly and any team can jump up and bite you, even a team in 12th place in the conference.
The Devils are in a pretty similar situation to the Sabres, although in a much tougher Metropolitan division they have only one option within their sights right now, the second Wild-Card spot. They are within 5 points of the Leafs, but would also have to pass the Flyers and Islanders in their own division as well as the Panthers if they hope to see action past mid-April.
Just when you thought the Senators were done with another former asset, Stefan Noesen, following a pair of matchups against the Ducks earlier on, the former Senators first rounder and piece of the ill-fated Bobby Ryan deal was picked up on waivers by the Devils and has 3 points in 7 games with his new team. He has been getting more than double the amount of ice time he got in Anaheim, and has played between 11 and 14 minutes in each game with the Devils after not reaching 10 minutes in any game for the Ducks this season.
The Senators have blown opportunities to create some separation in the standings and make their stretch run a little bit easier by not being able to beat some teams they should be beating in recent games. I feel like I am beating a dead horse here, but they have to come out ready to play because excuses (hot goalie, being snakebit, bad bounces) don't matter at this point in time, they have all hands on deck from the net out and a great opportunity to boost themselves and their own playoff chances while hurting those of some others who are chasing at the same time.
With seven games between now and the trade deadline, it will be a good indication of just where the team is, and how close they are to making some noise and whether or not adding pieces will be worth the price that will have to be paid come March 1.
And at least for the next two games, tonight in Jersey and Saturday in Toronto, there will be a little extra motivation in the stands because it is the annual "father's trip" where most of the fathers of the players will be along with the team for the ride.