Too many turnovers hurting Spizza liners

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

They heard about it again yesterday, particularly Senators winger Dany Heatley, who was part of a long, animated and very much one-sided conversation with coach Bryan Murray at the end of practice at Scotiabank Place.

You know Murray is getting into it when he reaches up, lifts his cap and repositions it on his head, like he's letting out some steam.

He did it a couple of times in his conversation with Heatley, who will line up on the reunited Spizza Line tomorrow night with Jason Spezza and captain Daniel Alfredsson -- the best line in the NHL last season.

Heatley was hearing what will be a frequent speech from the coach this season -- that better decisions with the puck are expected.

That with ice time comes responsibility.

To sum it up: If you want more, you have to give more.

Not unreasonable, huh?

"To get more minutes of ice time, they have to perform with that ice time. It's effort with and without the puck," reiterated Murray after yesterday's brisk, up-tempo practice.

"That's basically what the gist of (the conversation with Heatley) was. Sometimes they try to do more than they have to with the puck and it winds up costing us."

There's the rub.

Skilled players want to use that skill. It's what makes them who they are. With Alfredsson back on the right side Thursday night, the Spizzas scored two goals and gave the Senators a breath of life. But they were also on the ice for the goal that put them in the two-goal hole.

Murray's work in progress -- and, lord, it has its ups and downs -- is to help talented players like Spezza and Heatley recognize when it's time for the dicky-dicky-do and when it's time to throw the puck in the corner 190 feet from your net and bump somebody. When the puck gets turned over, it usually happens around the other team's blue line and leads to a counterattack with one or more of the good guys going the wrong way.

It happened Thursday on the Sabres' third goal after the Senators had scored to make it 2-1.

"If you remember the goal ... we had got some enthusiasm and emotion in the game, we did some really good things and they get a 3-on-1," said Murray. "The fourth goal, we had the puck three times and turned it over each time and they came back in and scored.

"The point I've tried to make to the better or more skilled players on our team is that sometimes, whether you like it or not, you have to put the puck behind the defender and try to retrieve it again instead of making something out of nothing."

Heatley said yesterday he's on board, of course.

'COMMON SENSE'

"It's just common sense," he said. "He gives us the freedom to do the things we've got to do, but at the same time we have to be aware of the situation in the game. If it's 1-1 or there's no score, a tighter game, you wouldn't do things you would if you were up."

Murray tried to put that message out last year, but it was lost in the glow of the red lights and the fanfare of the Senators scoring almost at will (until it really counted, of course).

HEAR AND THERE: It's getting close to time for rookie Alexei Kaigorodov to get into a game. There's no point keeping him around if he's not going to play. Guessing is he'll probably play Saturday in Montreal. The Senators' next game is against the Calgary Flames, not exactly the kind of team you want to throw a shy rookie up against in his NHL debut ... Speaking of the Flames, coach Jim Playfair, unhappy with their effort, had them battling in practice yesterday and skating laps for five minutes. He's also shaken up his top line, dropping Alex Tanguay and replacing him with Kristian Huselius on a line with Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow ...The Senators signed 19-year-old junior defenceman Tomas Kudelka to a three-year entry level contract ...The Senators improved greatly on faceoffs against the Sabres Thursday (51%) after a dismal 36% performance against the Leafs in the season opener ... Next up: working on the 1-for-19 power play today ...The coach said he's decided on his goaltender for tomorrow night, but he wasn't telling. For what it's worth, Martin Gerber has played 11 minutes against the Flames in his career and gave up three goals. That's a goals-against average of 16.36. Ray Emery, you will remember, stood on his head against the Flames last year and the Senators lost 2-1 in overtime.


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