by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray was pleased with his team's comeback effort during Wednesday's 3-2 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers but he's looking for a better start tonight against the Florida Panthers.
"Last year when we came down here (to Sunrise, Fla. for a pair of games against the Panthers), our first game wasn't very good," Murray said after this morning's skate. "We've got to get off the mark fairly quickly. We can't play in the early part of the game like we did against Philly. Our team has to be more dedicated at looking after the deep part of the game first, getting the puck in deep and playing against their defenders as much as we can."
Murray, general manager of the Panthers when they joined the NHL in 1993, feels there could be plenty of action in tonight's contest against Florida, a club guided by former Senators head coach Jacques Martin.
"I think there will be a good pace to the game," Murray said. "I think (Florida's Jay) Bouwmeester chases the puck as well as any young defenceman in the league does. I think that they're going to be an attacking team. Certainly, we have to be prepared (for Florida playing with) four-men back. You know Jacques (Martin) is going to coach that kind of game.
"Watching them play their last couple of games, there's scoring chances galore for and against, so we're hoping we'll get more for and really take away from their offensive players like (Olli) Jokinen."
Senators forward Peter Schaefer is on a five-game points streak that has seen him accumulate nine of his 13 points this season.
"There's no question that Schaefer has started to play better hockey now," Murray said. "He's more intense in the games, he's getting to the net more often. His play along the boards, as we all like about Peter, is now starting to happen more for him."
Forward Denis Hamel will play tonight for Ottawa while Brian McGrattan is a scratch. Ray Emery makes his sixth consecutive start in goal.