Chop shop irks Neil

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:08 PM ET

Chris Neil doesn't have an axe to grind.

But, he says, NHL goalies have had impunity to chop opposing forwards off at the knees.

The Senators rugged winger scoffed yesterday at suggestions made by New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur that the new rules have allowed netminders to get run by opposing forwards.

"If you look at it, it has been open season for them to whack at a player from behind ... if you look at what happened with me and (Toronto goalie) Ed Belfour (Monday)," Neil said following practice in preparation for tonight's visit by Boston.

"He was just chopping away at me on the back of the legs. I wanted to deck the guy, but then I found out we were getting a 5-on-3 (power play), so I didn't want to touch him. I just haven't seen a whole lot of people in the crease in any of the games we've played. I'm not really sure what (Brodeur is talking about)."

Part of the reason Brodeur is complaining is the fact NHL goalies have been attacked from virtually every angle to increase scoring and make the game more exciting.

Not only was goalie equipment made smaller, the masked men have also lost a lot of freedom when it comes to handling the puck. About the only change that didn't occur was making nets bigger.

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"I haven't seen any of what Brodeur is talking about in the games we've played," said Senators goalie Dominik Hasek.

"I heard his comments on television ... about the closest thing I've seen in one of our games was (Montreal's Alexei) Kovalev going through the crease on (Ray) Emery. Guys try to make it look like they're going for the puck and they end up diving (on the goalie's knees). Guys can get hurt."

Brodeur even accused Antoine Vermette of crashing into Montreal goalie Jose Theodore when the Senators winger scored the winning goal in the third period of Ottawa's 4-2 win over the Habs on Tuesday.

"I don't really remember it to tell you the truth," said Vermette. "If I did it, was just trying to get to the front of the net to get some traffic in front. There's no question it's a lot easier to get to the front of the net because now nobody can hook you or hold you on the way."

Emery, who has been known to like the odd tussle, actually misses all the traffic he used to face in the AHL.

"What I really miss is being able to whack guys on the back of the legs," said Emery. "I can tell you that it's not nearly as bad up here as it was in the minors last year. In fact, it's not even close. The front of the net has been pretty clear. The game I played in Montreal, I really didn't get that chance to whack at anybody."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com 


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