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Senators expect an improved effort from Leafs

Monday, 23.01.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Senators expect an improved effort from Leafs
Senators head coach Bryan Murray offers Jason Spezza some coaching advice during Monday's pre-game skate. Photo: OSHC

by Todd Anderson

In the wake of a third-straight, one-sided victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, Senators players were guarded when asked about their confidence against their biggest rivals heading into tonight's game at Scotiabank Place.

"They're going to come out hard tonight," captain Daniel Alfredsson said after the pre-game skate. "We are tied for first overall right now; we want to keep going."

In the last three games, the Senators have rolled to victories of 8-0, 8-2 and 7-0 over the Maple Leafs. The latest result came Saturday night when Ottawa hosted the first of back-to-back games against the Leafs.

Alfredsson, and his linemates, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, have combined for 41 points against Toronto this season. That's a bit of a surprise for Spezza.

"There have been bounces for us, and the puck has gone in the net. It's surprising the games have gone the way they have. We have to be confident. We know if we play our best we can beat any team any night. It's not about cockiness, it's confidence."

Coach Bryan Murray said it's important for his team to concentrate on their own game and not how Toronto will react just a few days after the latest blowout.

"We can't control what they do, but we can control what we do. It was important not to go through (today's pre-game skate) casually. We scored early (on Saturday) and we pushed harder than they did from there. I think Toronto will be a bit different tonight."

Forward Mike Fisher would like to see an effort from his club similar to the one from Saturday.

"(The Leafs) are going to come out stronger and harder. We have to do a lot of the same things and hopefully get an early lead. We have to be even better than we were the other night."

And what if Toronto turns to a more physical effort?

"We're a physical team," Murray answered. "With the team we have, we can play hard and rough when necessary. We've shown that already this year."

Fisher, who scored two goals and an assist on Saturday, spoke about the chance of meeting the Leafs in the playoffs this season.

"Right now our focus is beating them in the regular season and preparing for the playoffs. We want to try to prepare as a team and get better. What's happened before, we've put in the past. We're both totally different teams. I think we're much better and more experienced than we were before."

Dominik Hasek will start in goal tonight looking for his 25th victory of the season. Backup Ray Emery and rookie defenceman Christoph Schubert stayed behind after their teammates left the ice Monday for an extra workout.

Before the three blowouts, Ottawa won a pair of shootouts over the Leafs this season. Dany Heatley scored the game-winning goal (3-2) in the first shootout in NHL history on Oct. 5, 2005, in Toronto. The Senators also won 6-5 by shootout five days later in Ottawa. Ottawa leads the all-time head-to-head battle 27-15-3-2.




1 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
3 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
4 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
5 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
6 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
7 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
8 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43


E. Karlsson 60 15 32 3 47
B. Ryan 56 15 30 8 45
K. Turris 60 15 28 -4 43
M. Hoffman 57 23 16 23 39
M. Stone 58 15 24 11 39
M. Zibanejad 58 15 18 2 33
C. MacArthur 53 13 13 -10 26
M. Michalek 55 11 14 -1 25
D. Legwand 58 8 14 -3 22
A. Chiasson 54 9 12 -8 21
C. Anderson 13 11 7 .927 2.37
R. Lehner 9 12 3 .905 3.02