Hamel makes most of his shot

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Senators winger Denis Hamel can score some goals.

He proved that last year, scoring 56 in the AHL.

Scoring success at the NHL level has been harder to come by, but the 29-year-old showed he's got a huge shot, scoring a big goal Saturday in the Senators' 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

He beat Philly goaltender Antero Niittymaki with a rifled slap shot from the top of the circle (38 feet, actually).

"I picked the blocker side, but not right there," said Hamel, who has had to be more of a role player at the NHL level.

You don't see too many goals like that in the NHL anymore, a guy getting enough room to really wind up and just blast it.

"Everybody plays it so tight. It's even tough to get a 2-on-1 or a 3-on-2," said Hamel. "When you get a chance like that ... it feels like it's been a month to get a good shot."

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The Senators know they can make life a lot easier for themselves by playing well over the next month and taking advantage of playing 10 of their next 12 going into the all-star break at home.

"It's going to take a pretty good record to the end of next month," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "If we don't do it, it's going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on us for the last part of the season."

Senators coach Bryan Murray would like to see his team keep it simple at home to improve on their 6-9 record at Scotiabank Place.

"It's showing some patience. You don't have to do anything other than win," said Murray. "That means you can check first. Play your position better. Sometimes at home we get looking for the home run pass too often.

"On the road, you would just chip it by the defenceman and go forecheck. Just play disciplined like we did in the third period against Philadelphia. Play your position, get the puck deep, forecheck and put the puck to the net. Make the goalie make play after play.

"The last couple of games at home we haven't shot the puck very much or very well."

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Former Senator Alexei Yashin is having a fine season for the Islanders (33 points in 26 games going into last night's game), though for many of his most ardent detractors here in Ottawa, he'll never live up to his contract.

Whatever.

The fact is Yashin is playing good hockey for new Islanders coach Ted Nolan and it's been noticed by his teammates.

"Alexei Yashin is playing his best and he's not just playing offence, he's playing better in his own zone," Islanders D Sean Hill told New York Newsday. "Also, (G) Rick DiPietro has been playing good as well. Two of our best players have been on top of their game the majority of nights."

The combination with Nolan's impressive coaching has the Islanders in the thick of the battle for top spot in the Atlantic Division.

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Speaking of Hamel's goal, it came on a 2-on-1 with enforcer Brian McGrattan and the tough guy took some ribbing from his teammates, at least one who pointed out surely the Flyers defenceman shaded toward McGrattan on the play because he's a scoring threat.

Hmmm.

Let's see. McGrattan is looking for his first goal this season and had two last year. Hamel scored those 56 in the AHL last year.

Nothing against McGrattan, but it appears Hamel made a good play to shoot it.


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