by Todd Anderson
Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray expects some challenging matchups in the near future.
"This is a real tough stretch for us," Murray said after practice today. "A club like the Rangers is coming in (to play the Senators at Scotiabank Place tomorrow) and then we're on the road against four good clubs.
"I include Columbus (Blue Jackets) as a good team because I've watched them recently and they're playing very disciplined. They have a new coach (Ken Hitchcock) there and they're working hard. After that we have Detroit (Red Wings), Nashville (Predators) and Buffalo (Sabres). They're all top-end teams in this league."
The Senators could be without two of their leaders during the series of games as captain Daniel Alfredsson is day-to-day with a hip injury and Wade Redden is out indefinitely with a chest injury.
"Those are two big guys for us," says Chris Phillips, who will wear the captain's C in Alfredsson's absence. "You hate to see them out of the lineup for games but the positives that come out of it are that other guys are put into other situations and given more opportunity."
Ray Emery will start in goal for the Senators tomorrow against the Rangers.
Spezza and Heatley rewarded for effort
Senators linemates Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley are tied for sixth in NHL scoring with 36 points. Murray says the pair has been rewarded for their work ethic in practice with a surge in points.
"They're working real hard at their game. We all know they're good players, and it was just a matter of time before they got going."