by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond will play in his 800th NHL game tomorrow night when the Montreal Canadiens visit Scotiabank Place. As McAmmond approaches his fourth trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs, he wants his team to finish off the way he knows it can.
"Up until our road trip (against the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning from March 18 to 24), I didn't think we played as solid since the Edmonton Oilers game (on Feb. 20)," McAmmond says. "There was a lack of focus and periods of complacency. It was just subtle things, but that's how it starts. (Bad habits) just don't go away over night if you develop them.
"There's definitely a rhythm to the way you play. We can rest up but we can't let up."
Senators head coach Bryan Murray maintains it's important to find opportunities to rest players with nagging injuries at this time of year, but he agrees with McAmmond that remaining focused on the ice is the main objective.
"I don't think at this time of year, and for most of the second half of the year, you should ever let your players relax. I think when they put the uniform on for a game they should try and play hard every night. If they don't, I think you're letting them off the hook a little bit and the message to the team is not a positive one. I real think you should approach it in a real serious vein."
Heatley game-day decision for tomorrow
Senators forward Dany Heatley, who twisted his ankle against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, has missed the last two days of practice. He's a game-day decision against Montreal.
"It's a lot better today than it was yesterday," Heatley said this morning. "I think I'll be able to go, but we'll see how it feels out on the ice tomorrow."
Volchenkov nominated for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Members of the Ottawa Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association have chosen defenceman Anton Volchenkov as the Senators nominee for the NHL's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Murray says Volchenkov fits the mold of a player deserving of the award.
"Is there any better example of that right now? If you talk about guys with black and blue marks on them, he's got them every day," Murray says. "The normal player several times this year wouldn't have been able to play in the game and there wasn't any doubt in his mind that he was going to play.
"He's been outstanding for us. He's had to step up and fill a role that wasn't available to me a year ago. I'm real pleased for him and certainly he's a deserving guy."