With so much still to gain, the Ottawa Senators figure it’s worth investing the time to spread the wealth a little further.
So it is that head coach/general manager Bryan Murray remains committed to leaving captain Daniel Alfredsson
on the team’s second line and apart from the other two-thirds of what had been the National Hockey League’s explosive scoring unit.
But Murray believes he can get plenty of mileage out of an Alfredsson-Mike Fisher-Cory Stillman combination, while Jason Spezza
and Dany Heatley line up with – for the moment, at least – veteran winger Randy Robitaille.
“I told Alfie I might pop him up with Spezza and Heatley once in a while,” Murray said after the Senators’ one-hour workout at the Bell Sensplex on Wednesday morning. “But let’s find out if we can play and have a really, really good second line that can contribute offensively as well as play hard without the puck.
“We have a chance with that line and we’re going to find out in the next little bit if I’m right.”
While the trio hasn’t lit up the scoreboard in a major way yet, Fisher believes their day will come sooner rather than later.
“Cory’s a guy that makes plays and thinks with the puck. He’s very smart,” said Fisher. “And we all know what Alfie can do. I think it’s just a matter of time before we start really clicking and getting goals.
“We’ve been getting chances. We feel it’s going to come the more we’re together and (get a chance) to feel each other out.”
Added Alfredsson: “We have the makings of being a good offensive line and a good forechecking line (which can) get in there and cycle the puck and win battles. If we play together down the stretch, we should be able to jell together into a good line.”
The Senators rode a four-line attack all the way to the Stanley Cup final a year ago and Alfredsson feels it’ll be a vital component for more post-season success this go around.
“The more balanced scoring you have, the tougher you’re going to be to play against, the tougher you’re going to be to check against,” he said. “It gives you better balance (if we have) four good lines we can use and depend on in any situation.”
The Senators seem to have found stability between the pipes with Martin Gerber, who’s been tabbed for his ninth straight start when the Senators entertain the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., A-Channel, Team 1200).
Murray said Gerber’s play “had nothing to do with us winning or losing” on Sunday, when the Senators dropped a 5-1 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We had lots of players who didn’t play close to their game (Sunday) and we’re playing them tomorrow night,” said Murray. “Martin, I thought, played real solid for the most part… We think the way he’s played continually has been good enough for us to have a chance to win every night.”
Gerber is anxious to help the Senators get back on the track that saw them win three straight games before the slip Sunday against the Hurricanes.
“You want to get back in there, get back to work and back to the way things were,” he said. “As a team, we want to get back to where we were before the Carolina game.”
Fewer than 300 tickets remain for Thursday’s game against the Blues, who helped the Senators’ cause Tuesday night by shocking the Canadiens 4-3 in a shootout in Montreal.
Ottawa is three points behind the Northeast Division-leading Habs and the teams meet twice more this season – Monday at the Bell Centre in Montreal, and April 1 at Scotiabank Place.
“We saw St. Louis beat Montreal,” said Alfredsson. “We can still grab first in the division. We’re three points behind with one game in hand. If we can win tomorrow, then the games against Montreal are going to be kind of exciting.”