by Todd Anderson
With the Nashville Predators losing just one regulation game at home so far this season, Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray knows it will take another great effort from his club to win a second consecutive road game tonight.
"I know that Nashville is a quick and very good team, and they're extremely good at home," Murray said on Wednesday after the Senators practised at Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville. "We will have a real test. Are we able to match it? Are we able to come back after that win (3-2 over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday) with the confidence and ability to match that play and get the goaltending we got from Ray (Emery)?"
Murray says the answers to those questions depend on if his club can begin to play with some consistency.
"I think every team in the league wants that," Murray says. "I think you're seeing throughout the league right now some pretty balanced hockey clubs. To get roles going, it seems to be difficult right now, in particular when you lose a couple of good hockey players off your lineup."
While alternate captain Wade Redden (chest) remains out of the lineup for an undetermined period, captain Daniel Alfredsson (hip) is doubtful for tonight and Peter Schaefer (eye) will be a game-time decision. Brian McGrattan (hand) is expected to be back in the lineup.
Senators centre Jason Spezza enters the game on a 10-game points streak. Murray says the biggest reason for Spezza's recent success is his skating.
"He's skating better, he's moving his feet, he's driving the net," Murray says. "As a result, I think he's getting rewarded."
After setting a team record for saves in a victory with 43 against Detroit on Tuesday, Emery feels he's getting better with every game he plays. He'll start tonight.
"Any time you get experience, get a chance to play a bit more, and mature, you gradually get better," Emery said after yesterday's practice. "I definitely feel a change in my game this year. I changed my game and simplified things a bit. I just want to play the best when I get in there and continue to get better."