Jason in coach's corner

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Senators coach Bryan Murray and centre Jason Spezza tried to throw water on the fire yesterday.

While there appeared to be a storm brewing after Murray criticized his No. 1 centre in yesterday's Sun for poor play in Saturday's 3-2 win over Montreal, they are in fact on the same page.

"I don't think this is a me or (Dany Heatley) vs. Bryan Murray thing at all," said Spezza. "I've got no problem with what Bryan said. I don't think I am playing my best hockey, either. He's the coach and he's entitled to an opinion and I've got the same opinion.

"I expect to be a better player. We're all working here together. We are going to be fine.

"I am in my own doghouse, bigger than I am in (Murray's) doghouse. We want to get things going here. We want to make sure that we are performing because we want to contribute. I'm not worried at all. That's just Bryan being Bryan."

Murray backed off on Spezza when asked about it during his news conference following practice yesterday, but admitted he's considering breaking up the trio with Daniel Alfredsson and Heatley if they don't get their act together soon.

"We can't go on forever if it's not working," said Murray. "Last year, we had this group together then I broke them up later in the year because they were doing things that weren't helping us at the time.

"I've got a notepad at home and I did a bunch of different line combinations (Sunday). But I've got be a bit tolerant and let guys play together."

Heatley and Murray had a long chat after everyone else had left the ice yesterday.

Not only is Murray expecting more offence from his No. 1 line, he wants the trio playing responsible defence as well.

"We know we have to do more," said Heatley. "We know we're not playing well. Until we start doing more, there's always going to be pressure."

Murray said he's not asking his offensive stars to change their game.

"Skill people have to be allowed to use skill to be productive," said Murray. "What I'm asking them to do is not turn the puck over so often. I'm asking them not to turn the puck over at the offensive blue line as often and I'm asking them to work hard in their own end and help out. I want them to play defence, but I can't get in the way of guys taking offensive chances, either.

"I don't think they are stupid guys. (They're) all intelligent players ... good players and productive players. They just have to get together a little more often and do some positive things. Once they start to score one goal, things will start to happen."

Senators GM John Muckler said the club still believes in Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson, they just have to get back on track.

"We still have confidence in these guys and we don't want people to think we've lost confidence in them," said Muckler. "These guys are our leaders. Alfredsson is our captain. Spezza and Heatley are leaders as well. We're not a good hockey club until they get back performing the way they did last year. I just think they are going through a bad time. They are going to work their way out of it."


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