Penalties killing Senators

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:07 AM ET

DETROIT -- Dean McAmmond was struck by a bat -- the flying kind, not the swinging kind -- as he was skating in the pre-game warmup.

"It hit me on the pant leg," said the Ottawa forward, who admitted concern the mammal might search for darkness in places McAmmond would rather not have it go. "I've seen them before ... we have them up at the lake."

Peter Schaefer, who flubbed two breakaways and a penalty shot before the Senators scored a pair of late, meaningless goals, was playing through a right eye nearly closed by some kind of virus.

"It's blurry and (infected)," said Schaefer, who has battled the condition since the team's visit to Long Island last week. "Like looking through water."

UNUSUAL DISTRACTIONS

Okay, so the Senators had some unusual distractions to deal with in Columbus on Sunday night. But they really only had themselves to blame for a 6-2 loss to the lowly Blue Jackets.

A parade to the penalty box saw them short-handed 11 times, leading to a franchise-record five power-play goals by the Blue Jackets. And if the Senators don't swear to be more disciplined in tonight's game against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, they'd probably be better off not showing up at all.

"In the last number of games we've had six, seven, 11 (penalties) ... you can't do that and win," coach Bryan Murray said yesterday. "You just can't.

"It does wear you down."

The Senators do seem to be getting the short end of the stick on calls since Schaefer raised his, with a white towel, in protest of the officiating during the first of this three-game slide.

NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS

And the players are starting to wonder if it's a coincidence.

Murray, however, said he doesn't believe there's some kind of union-wide, referee conspiracy.

"I would hope not," said Murray, who noted the complaining about calls on his bench in Columbus.

"We're just putting our sticks up where you can't. It has to do with not moving your feet. You can't be reaching anymore.

"I addressed it after the game. The penalties are there, the calls are there. There's not much sense in griping. We see different officials every night ... you just have to worry about your own game."

That means the penalty killers have to be available to kill penalties. Such was not the case against the Blue Jackets, as Antoine Vermette took four minors.

"It's something I'm not used to," said Vermette, who only has 24 penalty minutes on the year. "I've got to stay out of the box."

UNIT FALLS TO 17TH

The Senators' penalty-killing units, which were near the top of the league early in the season, are now ranked 17th.

"We do more work on our 'PK' than any other part of our game," said Murray, noting the diligence of assistant coach Greg Carvel. "We can't afford to have them take penalties. You can't be careless when you're killing."

One key member of the penalty kill (and power-play and regular forward units) that won't be available for any of tonight's game is Daniel Alfredsson. The captain tested his tender hip a little more severely at a practice in Columbus, but he's not yet ready for game conditions.

"I can skate a little, but I still can't go full speed," said Alfredsson, who has watched the last two losses from the sidelines. "I pushed it more (yesterday). Hopefully, I can keep doing that."

Schaefer is expected to play, meanwhile, as is Chris Neil, who missed practice with a lower-body injury.

Ray Emery will start in goal.


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