Sens line dance

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

BUFFALO -- Senators coach Bryan Murray was toying with his line combinations yesterday at practice.

With rookie winger Brandon Bochenski dispatched to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton, Murray was holding what amounted to an audition.

While winger Martin Havlat -- returning from a five-game suspension -- was skating in Bochenski's spot with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, that's not where he's going to start tonight against the Sabres.

Instead, Murray wanted to experiment to see what the fit would look like. Captain Daniel Alfredsson will play with the dynamic duo, while Havlat is going to start the night with Peter Schaefer and Antoine Vermette.

That means tough guy Chris Neil is going to move to the right side of Mike Fisher and Bryan Smolinski. The fourth line of Vaclav Varada, Chris Kelly and Brian McGrattan is the only group that remains intact.

"You try different things," said Murray. "There is nothing scientific about this."

Murray said he wasn't teasing Havlat by having him practise with Spezza and Heatley all morning. He wanted to get a look at the trio, but isn't sure if he played them in a game who would play defence.

"(Playing them together) may happen," said Murray. "This was just a practice. (Sabres coach) Lindy Ruff doesn't need to know everything about what we're doing with our lineup, but I guess he's going to find out now.

"You try a lot of different people in different situations. Havlat may go there at some point. But I told Daniel Alfredsson before practice he was going to go there. I didn't think he needed to practise with those guys. He knows what they can do. If you put Havlat with Heatley and Spezza, you just wonder who is going to do the bulk of the work defensively."

Spezza said Alfredsson will help make the line better. Not only does Alfredsson contribute a lot offensively, but he plays at both ends of the ice.

"Alfie makes any line he's on better because he's going to help us put on pressure," said Spezza.

AROUND THE BOARDS: Senators D Anton Volchenkov left practice early yesterday because of bruised ribs he suffered in the club's 5-3 loss to the Flyers on Sunday. Murray said he's not sure if Volchenkov will be able to play tonight. If Volchenkov is injured, D Brian Pothier, a healthy scratch in the club's last two games, will return. But the club could be short a blueliner because Christoph Schubert collided in practice with Neil and had to be helped off the ice ... Ottawa G Ray Emery will start tonight. It will be his third start of the season and his first against the Sabres.


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