by Todd Anderson
Coming off a season that saw him set new career marks in goals, assists and points, Senators forward Chris Neil hasn't forgotten the other parts of his game that paved the way to his NHL career.
"I just go out and work hard, that's the bottom line," Neil says. "I have to go to the net hard and I have to finish my checks. If I don't do that, I might as well not be playing. That's what got me to the NHL, and I have to keep doing it."
In Saturday's 8-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, several of Neil's teammates picked up more points than his one assist, but the rugged forward was selected as the game's first star after firing six shots on goal and dishing out 11 hits. Neil takes pride in providing the team with his physical play and contributing in any way that helps them win.
"If I see the opposite jersey in my way, I try to hit it," Neil says. "That's part of my game."
Into his fifth season in the NHL, the 27-year-old is also developing into a complimentary scorer for Ottawa. New opportunities from head coach Bryan Murray, especially on the power play, have helped Neil develop offensively. Last season the Flesherton, Ont., native scored 16 goals and 33 points while still accumulating the second-highest total in penalty minutes during his career (204). Eight of his 16 goals and five of his 33 assists last season came while playing with the man advantage.
This season Neil has one goal and two assists, as well as a team-high 19 minutes in penalties after seven games played.
Both goaltenders will be given their opportunities
Senators head coach Bryan Murray says both of his goaltenders - Ray Emery and Martin Gerber - will continue to get their fair share of games.
"They both deserve it," Murray says. "We're trying to not have one guy play all the time and one guy sitting all the time."
Emery was in goal during Ottawa's 8-1 victory over New Jersey; now it's Gerber's turn on Tuesday when Ottawa visits the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"When you (organize a playing schedule for the goaltenders), you consider a number of things. Ray played against New Jersey and Martin played well in Toronto (during the season-opener, a 4-1 win on Oct. 4). I hope he has a similar game (on Tuesday)."
The Senators and Maple Leafs play the back-end of a home-and-home series on Thursday at Scotiabank Place.
To purchase tickets for Thursday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, click here. To purchase other single-game tickets, click here. For more information on season tickets, click here.