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Players excited about Superskills competition

by Staff Writer / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Antoine Vermette has been picked by many of his teammates to contend in the speed and accuracy competitions at Saturday's Sens Superskills competition.

by Todd Anderson

Team Red and Team White will battle tomorrow in the annual Sens Superskills competition at Scotiabank Place at 1 p.m.

Players had the opportunity to warm up for the hardest shot competition Thursday after practice, using a radar gun usually used for Ottawa Senators street tours. The favourite to win the competition, Zdeno Chara, didn't take any shots but others proved Big Z may not have the competition wrapped up just yet.

"(Christoph) Schubert will be close to Chara," predicted Team Red captain Daniel Alfredsson after witnessing a few of the practice shots.

On Thursday, the players took good-natured verbal shots at one another while each had his turn testing the speed of his shot. Centre Jason Spezza was amazed to see his buddy, rookie goaltender Ray Emery, do well.

"Our goalie shoots harder than you," he shouted to a few of his teammates.

Antoine Vermette had one of the hardest shots among the players. He also had one of the more unique styles. While most players took a few strides before shooting the puck, Vermette started his approach from close to centre ice.

"Why don't you just start at the other end of the arena," suggested Brian McGrattan.

"You have to get a running start, it works," offered Vermette, with a high number on the radar gun backing up his statement.

While Emery wasn't out of place with a player's stick in his hands, he said he'll remain in between the pipes during the competition. He suggested his favourites to win individual competitions.

"I got to take the big man (Chara) a nose over Schuby in the hardest shot. Alfie, Fisher and Vermette will go for the fastest skater. (In the accuracy shooting) Vermette is pretty solid, Fisher is pretty good and so is Alfie. It's going to be pretty cool for the fans to see a bit of the guys' personalities out there."

The team captains both believe their respective squads will come out on top.

"We got a good chance," said Team White captain Wade Redden. "Schuby will challenge Z, and Vermette has accuracy and speed."

Senators shutdown Montreal's offence

The Senators had a remarkable night defensively against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, limiting them to just 12 shots and one scoring opportunity during a 3-0 win.

"I thought about it, and that was definitely my easiest shutout in the NHL," said Dominik Hasek afterwards.

"I was just surprised I wasn't named first star," he joked.

During the second period, there were no faceoffs held in the Senators end of the ice, a rarity for NHL games. It was pure domination for Ottawa, and coach Bryan Murray has never seen anything like it.

"A night like that doesn't happen a lot. We were very dedicated to putting pressure on their defence and standing up in the neutral zone. Our guys did a good job."

Defenceman Chris Phillips urged his team during the game to try and keep the Montreal shot total fewer than 10. It reached 12 when the Canadiens fired two shots from the neutral zone on the Ottawa goal in the dying minutes.

"It wasn't about the shot total," said Phillips of his statement to his teammates. "It was so they, hopefully, understood that we had a 3-0 lead and maybe they would be more concerned on not giving up chances. We have been paying a little more attention (to defence), especially in the close games. It comes to us naturally, but maybe it was pushed aside a bit. We just needed to focus on it a little bit more."

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