McGrattan, Sens packing punches

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:41 PM ET

Hey, the Leafs are in town, do you think Brian McGrattan will be a healthy scratch?

Not a chance.

After sitting out Thursday's game vs. the Stars at the Corel Centre, McGrattan and his fists will return to the Senators lineup tonight to face the much-hated Leafs.

The last time these teams met on Oct. 29 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Senators rag-dolled the Leafs 8-0 and McGrattan gave Leafs enforcer Tie Domi a free nose job in a fight that can only be described as a changing of the guard among heavyweight enforcers in the NHL.

If Domi had hoped to reclaim the crown he so proudly wore for years, it won't happen tonight, as he stayed in Toronto with a shoulder injury.

Toronto's other resident tough guy, Wade Belak, will play however, so McGrattan might get to use his muscle.

"I have to be ready for whatever happens," McGrattan said yesterday. "Look, I'm not going to go out there and fight somebody who doesn't fight. Like, what's the point in me going out and pounding out somebody who isn't going to fight back?

"That's not going to happen. I didn't play in the last game (vs. Dallas), which means when I go out there, I have to be smart. If things are happening and I have to take care of business, then I'm going do that."

And while the Senators gave the Leafs a severe thrashing the last time around, it was McGrattan's thrashing of Domi that may have been a defining moment for the franchise.

"My parents were watching and they were really excited," said McGrattan. "When I grew up, we were all Leafs fans, but now that I'm playing for the Senators, they hate (the Leafs). To fight Domi was an honour for me. I grew up watching him and I kind of idolized him as a kid."

And speaking of kids, McGrattan's impressive victory over Domi also showed that the Senators were growing up ... that they would no longer be pushed around by their archrivals.

"That was fabulous for our hockey club," Senators GM John Muckler said at the time. "It was something that had to happen. The mystique of the Toronto Maple Leafs is not there (for us) anymore."

Yesterday, Senators coach Bryan Murray was playing down the significance of the victory and the victory.

"(That game meant a lot) until the next game," said Murray. "Every game is an individual event. In this case, I would think we're best to take them as single packages."

This game has all the elements to be a good one: The Senators are looking to bounce back from an ugly 2-0 loss to the Stars; the Leafs want revenge for the loss in October; and it will be televised on Hockey Night in Canada.

"I'm sure both teams are going to be prepared for this," said Murray. "(Leafs coach) Pat Quinn is going to be telling his players how to prepare for the Ottawa Senators and I'm going to talk to get my team prepared for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I know these games take on a lot of significance because of the media that surrounds all of this. You don't see many games end 8-0 and I don't think the Leafs will let that happen again."

HAVLAT ON THE MEND: Senators RW Martin Havlat was back at the rink yesterday after having successful shoulder surgery on Tuesday in Cleveland. Havlat said the specialist found more damage than originally expected. He will go back and see Dr. Tony Miniaci in three weeks and then have a full examination in three months. "I'm still hoping that I can be back for the playoffs," said Havlat. He admitted he has been in a lot of pain as a result of the procedure. "I've been taking painkillers, so I really don't remember anything," Havlat said with a smile.


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