Being a fan means never giving up on your team. It also mean kicking 'em in the ass when they deserve it. It definitely does not mean kicking them when they're down.
Many bloggers on this site, including Kevin Lee, have basically thrown in the towel on the Senators after their three losses on the West Coast. I think a little dose of reality is required. In my book, the Sens are doing MUCH better now than they did a bare two weeks ago. Watching the Senators back then was painful and brutal. It's much better watching them now. Yes, they still make mistakes, but let's get a few things straight:
The Senators are playing in the Western Conference now, a very different style of hockey. It takes a little bit to get used to the style and know how to check it. Against the Ducks, the Senators had to adapt in a hurry. They showed grit and heart and kept coming back to the attack. Players injured in one period would return the next to battle some more. Ducks goalie Jean-Sébatien Giguère basically stood on his head and kept the Senators from catching up in the third period. It was a great effort, and an honnourable loss.
Facing the Sharks, the Senators made a good show of it. The Sharks are hot these days; they are on a streak, and have the bit between their teeth. Just the fact that the Sens were able to battle them to a standstill for most of three periods is no mean feat. And without Alfie to boot.
And then there's the Kings. Everyone expected a win against the basement Kings, but I don't know exactly why they would expect it. Did they think the Kings would just roll over because they faced the Senators? Did they expect the Senators to have a walk in the park? The Kings play to win, like any other team. In the last month they took on the Red Wings, the Flames and the Rangers who are all no slouches. There were 40 shots on goal for the Senators, nothing to sneeze at. And, in Erik Ersberg, I saw a young goalie who had something to prove, and did, unfortunately at the Senators' expense. I grant you that the second period was ugly, and the Senators resorted to taking penalties to try to make up for their out-of-position play. But I don't think the Sens overall effort was bad.
The Ottawa Senators have not hit rock-bottom. They hit that a few weeks ago, just before John Paddock was fired, and are currently digging themselves out of that hole. The return of Bryan Murray behind the bench is not going to cause his players to have a sudden epiphany and start playing the type of hockey we know they are capable of. It will take time, it takes some unlearning and re-learning. Murray is slowly working his disciplinary magic, benching McAmmond, and adjusting his lines to find the right chemistry. Murray has shown confidence in Gerber, and he has returned that confidence admirably. The pieces are slowly falling into place. If you were expecting instant results and instant gratification, you've listened to one too many weight loss commercial. These things take time and effort and I, for one, am pleased with the progress the Senators have shown. They are fighting for the puck more, passing is improving , and there are more shots on goal.
Last year, I wrote that the Senators need to prove to themselves that they can do it before they find a comfort zone. This is largely the same team, so that truth holds. All they need is one game where they click and steam-roll the opposition, or a streak of as little as two or three wins in a row. It could happen against Phoenix, but I doubt it. The Coyotes will not give up the ghost that easily, as the Stars found out in their last two outings against Phoenix. I expect that "Senators romp" to start on home ice, once the boys have had time to reconnect with their families and friends, have had a rest, and a few more practices under Murray's tutelage. I know that time is short, but we, as fans, must still allow the Ottawa Senators that time. We owe it to them.