Snipers reload for stretch run

Senators coach Bryan Murray will lean heavily on Ottawa's top snipers for the stretch run heading...

Senators coach Bryan Murray will lean heavily on Ottawa's top snipers for the stretch run heading to the playoffs. (Ottawa Sun File/Sean Kilpatrick)

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Murray believes his top two snipers smuggled back some undetectables from Italy that should make them even more dangerous.

Daniel Alfredsson suddenly has added ammunition, says the Senators coach. And Dany Heatley has an extra edge.

"Alfie will probably never come down to earth," Murray said yesterday, referring to his captain's gold-medal win with Team Sweden at the Olympics, after making an earlier, contradictory statement (unless he really doesn't consider Pittsburgh part of the globe) that Alfredsson would join the Senators in time for tonight's game at the Mellon Arena against the Penguins.

"That win gives him added ammunition as the leader of this team, as a guy who has won something. He now has a great example of what it takes to be a champion."

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Heatley, the Senators co-leader in goals with Alfredsson at 34, should now be loaded with even more motivation than he had simply as a star wanting to make an impression on a new team and its fans.

With Team Canada, his role was not as prominent as he's used to -- almost that of a third-line player. He scored only two goals in seven games in Turin, and he did not see anything close to his usual amount of power-play work.

"I talked to him and I think he's coming back with a little edge, he's a little frustrated with the way he played and the ice time he got," said Murray.

Heatley, who practiced with the Senators yesterday for the first time since the break, expressed predictable disappointment in Canada's early elimination from the tournament. He also played down his feelings about his personal treatment -- but you can still tell they're there.

"On those teams, there are so many great players and everyone has their role ... some guys play more than others," he said. "That's just the way it is.

"It wasn't a great two weeks for all of us. I think there are frustrations as a group, and I'm frustrated with the way things went, but now I'm just looking forward to getting it going again."

Heatley added that he feels plenty of motivation to help the Senators finish the regular season strongly.

"There's a lot of pressure on this team to win. I'm excited about that. We all knew coming in that the final 25 or 26 games were the most important ... that's what we've been gearing up for all season. Now it's here, and we've got to deliver."

Alfredsson arrived in Ottawa yesterday afternoon, after the Senators charter had departed for Pittsburgh. Murray expected the right winger would hook up with the team today and that he'll play "unless something strange has happened in his life that I don't know about."

Murray also said he expects his team to "play real intensely" in the final 26 games.

"We have to play individually well and as a team that's preparing to compete at playoff time," he said. "I expect them to play hard, work hard and battle Carolina and everybody else that's up there now for first in the East."


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