D.J. Smith: Slumping Senators have 'no room for negativity'

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

Ottawa Senators head coach D.J. Smith is preaching positivity as his underachieving squad sits in the basement of the NHL standings.

"There's no room for negativity at this point," he told reporters Thursday. "I thought we worked extremely hard (Wednesday against the Vegas Golden Knights), didn't get the result we wanted, but feeling sorry for yourself isn't going to help, and being negative certainly isn't going to help."

The Senators entered the campaign looking to end their five-season playoff drought after an explosive offseason that featured the additions of goaltender Cam Talbot and forwards Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux. But the team's 6-12-1 start probably isn't what it had in mind.

Ottawa has dropped three straight contests while mustering just one goal in each of those losses. Its dreams of climbing the Atlantic Division standings already took a hit earlier in November when it suffered a seven-game winless streak.

"I know these guys care, I know they try every single night; I don't think anyone thinks there's a shortage of effort," Smith said. "I just think there's so much focus and maybe pressure on 'win a game now,' and you put too much pressure on yourself.

"There's 64 games remaining in the season. The first 20 is highly, highly criticized and looked at. There will be teams that are winning games right now that probably shouldn't be winning as much as they are that won't win as much in the next 20. You have to trust the process."

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion and captain Brady Tkachuk have publicly defended Smith amid growing discontent within the fan base.

Smith, for his part, part, thinks his players could "give a little bit more" and knows it's up to him to help turn the tide.

"My job is to win games, and I know that. ... My job is to fix things, and if guys are hurt and guys are out, I gotta make other guys play better, and I take full responsibility that we're not winning enough games," he said. "But in saying that, I'm not gonna be negative, and I'm not gonna ... turn and start pointing fingers."

The Senators are tied with the Anaheim Ducks for last place in the league. The two squads face off Friday at 3 p.m. ET.

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D.J. Smith: Slumping Senators have 'no room for negativity'
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