OTTAWA - After two days of feeling like strangers in their own home, the Ottawa Senators are expecting a warmer welcome Tuesday at Scotiabank Place.
The Senators played in a hostile environment over the weekend as visits from the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs brought out fans with little affection for the home team.
A visit by the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday should restore things back to normal.
"New Jersey doesn’t have a custom of bringing a lot of their fans here," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said with a laugh. "It’s still a good atmosphere when we play Montreal and Toronto at home even though the crowds are biased. It’s a good atmosphere and that’s what you want. Instead of having 8,000 just Sens fans I think everybody prefers a full building and everything that comes with it."
Alfredsson was booed by boisterous Toronto fans nearly every time he touched the puck Saturday night.
While the Senators say they enjoy the energy that Habs and Leafs fans bring, they admit having the crowd firmly on their side provides an extra boost.
"Coming into those games we joke that we have to get the crowd out of it and it’s kind of true so it will be nice to have all the fans behind us again on Tuesday," said Senators winger Nick Foligno. "The crowd definitely gets you riled up and when your fans are really going you can feed off of that and you can get that extra boost of momentum if you’re not really feeling it at the time and that’s something that’s definitely important."
Foligno believes playing in a hostile environment on home ice has helped make the team mentally stronger.
"It’s definitely tougher in those games, but it just makes you play through it and play harder," he said.
Coming from an often empty rink in Phoenix, Ottawa forward Kyle Turris says he loves the atmosphere when rivals Toronto and Ottawa come to town.
"I think it makes it more exciting, it brings an intense atmosphere into the building," said Turris. "The building was so loud and I just find it a lot of fun. When you’re on the ice you don’t hear any of it, but when you’re on the bench or during a TV timeout it’s cool to hear how loud it gets and to hear the fans go back and forth. I think it’s a great energy."
With just nine games remaining and four of them on home ice, the Senators would like to make the most of a friendly environment.
"We look forward to trying to finish strong at home here," said Alfredsson. "We’ve done a good job on the road and I think we can push ourselves and be better at home and keep it simpler at home as well."
Meanwhile, Ben Bishop will start in net Tuesday against the Devils as Thursday marks four weeks since goaltender Craig Anderson cut his hand preparing food. While Anderson took part in full practice Monday, coach Paul MacLean says no decision will be made regarding his status until at least Thursday.
Notes: C Jason Spezza missed practice Monday to attend Canadian skier and close friend Nik Zoricic’s funeral ... D Matt Gilroy also missed practice to attend his cousin’s wake.