Senators face desperate Rangers tonight
|Ottawa Senators forward Patrick Eaves is expected to return to the lineup tonight and skate with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley.|
by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators face another team fighting to make the playoffs tonight when they visit the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers enter tonight's game holding down the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 76 points in 69 games. The Carolina Hurricanes are tied with the Rangers in points but sit ninth because they've played one more game. Four other teams are within five points as the fight for playoff positioning heats up.
"They're a team that's trying to hang on," Senators head coach Bryan Murray says of the Rangers. "They're going to be very competitive against us. (Goaltender Henrik) Lundqvist is key for that hockey club and (Jaromir) Jagr is their star, there's no question. When he's going, they're hard to contain."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson agrees with the sentiments of his coach.
"We can see they're a desperate team," Alfredsson says. "If you're able to contain Jagr, you have half the battle won."
A teammate of Lundqvist's with the gold-medal champion Team Sweden during the 2006 Winter Olympics, Alfredsson knows how well the goaltender can play.
"We have to get more shots in traffic, get dirty and get in front of his net," Alfredsson says.
Murray plans to re-insert Patrick Eaves into the lineup tonight. The forward hasn't played in the last six games.
"I'd like to play Patty Eaves and I probably will," Murray said after an optional skate this morning in New York. "I want to talk to the coaches, and it's just a matter of whether it's a defenceman or a forward who I take out."
Eaves has been skating on a line with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza over the last few days of practice. That's where Murray expects to start him tonight.
"The way he practised there, I'd like to do that," Murray says. "I think for him, and that combination, it allows me to have a little more depth as far as playing Alfie (Alfredsson) probably with Mike Fisher tonight."