|Senators head coach Bryan Murray offers Jason Spezza some coaching advice during Monday's pre-game skate. Photo: OSHC|
by Todd Anderson
In the wake of a third-straight, one-sided victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, Senators players were guarded when asked about their confidence against their biggest rivals heading into tonight's game at Scotiabank Place.
"They're going to come out hard tonight," captain Daniel Alfredsson said after the pre-game skate. "We are tied for first overall right now; we want to keep going."
In the last three games, the Senators have rolled to victories of 8-0, 8-2 and 7-0 over the Maple Leafs. The latest result came Saturday night when Ottawa hosted the first of back-to-back games against the Leafs.
Alfredsson, and his linemates, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, have combined for 41 points against Toronto this season. That's a bit of a surprise for Spezza.
"There have been bounces for us, and the puck has gone in the net. It's surprising the games have gone the way they have. We have to be confident. We know if we play our best we can beat any team any night. It's not about cockiness, it's confidence."
Coach Bryan Murray said it's important for his team to concentrate on their own game and not how Toronto will react just a few days after the latest blowout.
"We can't control what they do, but we can control what we do. It was important not to go through (today's pre-game skate) casually. We scored early (on Saturday) and we pushed harder than they did from there. I think Toronto will be a bit different tonight."
Forward Mike Fisher would like to see an effort from his club similar to the one from Saturday.
"(The Leafs) are going to come out stronger and harder. We have to do a lot of the same things and hopefully get an early lead. We have to be even better than we were the other night."
And what if Toronto turns to a more physical effort?
"We're a physical team," Murray answered. "With the team we have, we can play hard and rough when necessary. We've shown that already this year."
Fisher, who scored two goals and an assist on Saturday, spoke about the chance of meeting the Leafs in the playoffs this season.
"Right now our focus is beating them in the regular season and preparing for the playoffs. We want to try to prepare as a team and get better. What's happened before, we've put in the past. We're both totally different teams. I think we're much better and more experienced than we were before."
Dominik Hasek will start in goal tonight looking for his 25th victory of the season. Backup Ray Emery and rookie defenceman Christoph Schubert stayed behind after their teammates left the ice Monday for an extra workout.
Before the three blowouts, Ottawa won a pair of shootouts over the Leafs this season. Dany Heatley scored the game-winning goal (3-2) in the first shootout in NHL history on Oct. 5, 2005, in Toronto. The Senators also won 6-5 by shootout five days later in Ottawa. Ottawa leads the all-time head-to-head battle 27-15-3-2.