by Todd Anderson
Captain Daniel Alfredsson will be back on a line with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley when the Ottawa Senators visit the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow. The lineup change was just one of several implemented by Senators head coach Bryan Murray at today's practice in Atlanta.
Other line combinations included Peter Schaefer with Mike Fisher and Chris Neil; Antoine Vermette with Chris Kelly and Patrick Eaves; and Denis Hamel with Dean McAmmond and Brian McGrattan.
Murray hopes the combinations, which are similar to the regular lines used during the club's record-setting season last year, will lead to a more consistent effort from the club.
"One thing that is very obvious is we're not getting much balance in our scoring," Murray said after today's practice. "I thought (Alfredsson) played a real smart, hard-working game last night. I'm going to put him back there (with Spezza and Heatley) and take a chance that they can compete against the best defence and checking lines on other teams."
Murray is hoping for success from other familiar combinations as well.
"Kelly and Vermette together seem to give a little bit of a punch for me at times," Murray said. "By putting Patrick (Eaves) there, I hope that gives us another line that will work real hard and play well together. The other part that comes into it is we have to get Peter (Schaefer) going here. Last year with Fish (Fisher) that seemed to happen. We're kind of going to a throwback (lineup). When you're having a tough time, you do that."
Despite the current slump, Alfredsson maintains it's important to not lose focus.
"I think it's very important when you come to the rink that you work hard in practice" Alfredsson said. We know the situation we're in and we all know the urgency here. Hopefully, we can get out of this quick."