|The line of, from left, Christoph Schubert, Patrick Eaves and Dean McAmmond earned praise for its effort during the Senators' four-game road trip. |
by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray says captain Daniel Alfredsson will remain on a line with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley for now, but that could change before or after the playoffs arrive.
"If they played like they did Saturday night (in a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning), (Alfredsson will) play there at least part of the time now," Murray says. "For the short-term, we'll look at that. I get a little concerned if the other lines don't produce, but as long as they're playing well and doing things, it allows me to do that."
The Senators' opponent in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs will play a big factor in Murray's line combinations.
"With New Jersey, we would have to have (scoring) more spread out because they use a checking line all the time," Murray says. "We've got to have some flexibility with whom we meet in the playoffs.
"I think other guys can play (with Spezza and Heatley). I think Mike Comrie was playing real well there. In that particular game (on Saturday), I was concerned that (Tampa Bay's coaching staff) played (Vincent) Lecavalier's line so much. Going head-to-head, it might not have been as good if Alfie wasn't there."
While Alfredsson's line scored three goals and seven points against Tampa Bay, so did the unit of Christoph Schubert, Patrick Eaves and Dean McAmmond. Murray likes the support they provided.
"They played well on the road trip," Murray says. "Their skating ability and smarts with the puck were big factors."
While the coach continues to look for chemistry and flexibility throughout the lineup, he was asked what other objectives he'll set for his club during the final six regular-season games.
"Just to keep playing the way we are," Murray says. "To play hard, to be sharp. I don't think there's any particular game plan other than trying to win hockey games. Hopefully, everything will work fine so that when we go to the playoffs we'll have everyone going at a good level."
And is there a chance he will rest any players from games before the post-season?
"Only if there's somebody hurting a little bit and they want it," Murray answers. "I think we're at that stage of the year where the players can have some input. I think that if a veteran guy, in particular, needs a day off, there's some benefit to that."