A talk on the Wild side

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

ST. PAUL, MINN. -- All those Senators' fans worried about the club losing a few games need to relax.

Jacques Lemaire says it's good for the club.

The Minnesota Wild coach believes the adversity the Senators have been going through of late will go a long way for the club in the end.

"Sometimes you have to get a little down," Lemaire said yesterday. "You have to go through a little bit of a lull and then you can be ready for the last month of the season."

Lemaire should know -- he led the New Jersey Devils to their first Stanley Cup in 1994.

"You're going to face adversity in the playoffs," he noted. "If you haven't faced adversity at anytime during the season, then you might not know how to deal with it.

"What you want to do is have some trouble right now so that when the last month of the season comes, you're (cranking) it up for the playoffs."

IMPRESSIVE SQUAD

Lemaire is impressed with this season's edition of the Senators, believing it has the best shot of any Ottawa squad in the last decade to win an NHL championship.

"They've had a good team in Ottawa for the last 10 years, but they didn't have the team to win the Cup," Lemaire said prior to last night's Wild-Senators game. "Now they have the team to win the Cup, but they've probably had more talented teams in the past."

Before leaving the room yesterday, Lemaire said with a smile that he hoped the Senators would take it easy on the Wild: "I hope they think it's good for them to lose."

No such luck for the former Canadiens great, as the Senators skated to a 6-1 victory.

Off the Glass:

Before the puck is dropped for a Wild game, they have a tradition at the Xcel Energy Center of having somebody yell out: "Let's play hockey!" A familiar face, former Senators D Lance Pitlick, was on the microphone last night. "They called me up (yesterday) and asked me to do it and I told them I'd love to do it. It's just something that's fun," said Pitlick, a Minnesota native who lives in a St. Paul suburb ... Wild C Brian Rolston thinks highly of former Senators C Todd White, who was dealt to Minnesota last summer. "He's just a guy you can count on," said Rolston. "When you need a guy to take control, maybe when we've had a flurry of shots against our team, he'll go get the puck and get it out. He's just a good, solid two-way player who is always steady."

Shopping Around:

Keep an eye on Minnesota goalies Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson. They can become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, and if the fortunes of the Wild don't turn around, both could be dealt by GM Doug Risebrough before the trade deadline. "I haven't had any discussions with them and I haven't spoken to Manny about it, but I haven't been given any indication that he has either," said Roloson. "I'd like to stay here, but this is a good situation to be in as well." Both make $1.6 million US, have solid numbers and could help a contender. Colorado, Edmonton, Vancouver and Montreal are believed to be among the teams looking for goaltending help. There have been whispers that Roloson could be headed to the Avs. "I haven't really heard much, but I've obviously read a lot of the rumours," said Roloson. "We don't know what's going to happen. That's a situation where we're just going to have to wait until closer to the deadline to find out." ... Lemaire isn't convinced the new schedule -- which has teams in each division playing each other eight times -- is the right answer. He'd like to see teams in each conference play each other six times. "Just because you play a team eight times, I don't think that means you have a rivalry," said Lemaire. "I would think they're going to look at the schedule at the end of the year." ... The Anaheim Mighty Ducks, weather permitting, will hold a practice today on the Rideau Canal at noon close to the National Arts Centre. The Ducks play the Senators on Thursday night.


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