by Todd Anderson
After the first 10 games of the 2006-07 season, the Ottawa Senators' penalty-killing rate ranks as one of the best in the NHL. Heading into tomorrow's game against the Montreal Canadiens, only the Minnesota Wild (92.9) have a better success rate than Ottawa's 92.3 per cent.
"I'm pretty confident going into a kill," says Senators head coach Bryan Murray. "The first thing I think is (Chris) Kelly and (Antoine) Vermette. (Getting them on the ice) is my first reaction."
Last season, Kelly and Vermette teamed up as one of the best penalty-killing tandems in the NHL. Not only was the pair successful in keeping opponents' top stars in check, the duo also provided its fair share of goals while playing short-handed. In fact, Vermette was second in the NHL with six short-handed goals and Kelly tied teammate Chris Phillips for the NHL lead with six short-handed assists. Kelly says it's all about determination.
"As a five-man unit, with your goalie, you have to go out and play hard within the system. That's how we've had success."
Senators goaltender Ray Emery, who is scheduled to start when the Senators visit the Canadiens tomorrow, says although his team hasn't scored short-handed yet this season, he expects that to change.
"Last year we were dangerous out there on the penalty kill with our speed and talent. This year is no different."
Redden and Schaefer questionable
Both defenceman Wade Redden (lower body) and winger Peter Schaefer (hip flexor) are questionable for tomorrow's game.
"It would be nice if I was able to go tomorrow but we'll wait and see," said Schaefer after skating at practice today. "I want to be 100 per cent so I feel I can contribute."
Redden didn't participate in the full practice today.
"I left (practice early) so obviously it's not feeling great," Redden said. "There's been progress and it's a day-to-day thing. We'll see how it goes tomorrow."