Shanny's a breath of fresh air

DON BRENNAN

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

In teetering along the .500 line for three months, the Senators have essentially gone nowhere fast.

Just like they do immediately after each and every home game.

You've noticed how -- in the TV interviews following a win, loss or draw -- Ottawa hockey players waste very little time before they resume training for the Tour de France, right?

So has the rest of the NHL.

In the visitors' dressing room after yesterday's morning skate, Brendan Shanahan realized there was a considerable number of local media members waiting for him while he peeled off his jersey and the upper body shell of his equipment.

When he turned around to face his interrogators, the New York Rangers winger was not wearing the expression of stress you might expect from a key player on a team that was in the throes of a six-game losing streak.

Instead, Shanahan decided to have a little fun.

As the mikes, recorders and notepads were shoved in his mug and the cameras focused on his top half, a straightfaced Shanahan began quickly shifting his weight from foot-to-foot.

'OTTAWA INTERVIEW'

"I'm doing my Ottawa interview," he said before fielding the queries.

"I'm pretending I'm on a (stationary) bike."

Shanahan didn't stop, either, during the entire question-and-answer segment. At one point, he even quickened the pace ("pedalling faster now," he explained out of the side of his mouth) and then raised a hand to his neck for a pulse check.

Everyone watching all this had a good laugh, including Shanahan's teammates.

For a relative bargain at $4 million, the 1,389-NHL game veteran was the best free agent purchase in the summer of 2006. Through 38 games, he had provided the Blueshirts with grit, leadership, 23 goals and a little levity in tough times.

It's really too bad he wasn't doing the "Ottawa interview" thing more often. As a member of the Senators.

Maybe next year?

STARTS AND STOPS: Hours before he lined up between Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson for the first time, we asked Chris Kelly to recall the last time he was the centre on a team's first line. It wasn't his last year in Binghamton, he said, as back then he was a winger on Jason Spezza's line. And it wasn't his first year with the Baby Sens because, although he played centre, the team had Spezza and Antoine Vermette on the depth chart ahead of him. And it wasn't in junior, as he was a winger with the London Knights. So, Chris, when was the last time you were a centre on your team's top line? "Tonight!," Kelly beamed .... After a very good first period scrap with New York's Colton Orr, Brian McGrattan clapped a couple of times and then, as he settled into a seat in the box, grabbed his already damaged right hand in obvious discomfort. Don't think he teammates appreciate McGrattan fighting through the pain? When he took a minor penalty a little over a minute later, Heatley patted the big guy on the shoulder a couple of times.

BETWEEN PERIODS: Scoring on the opening shift is always a nice way to come out in your first game after losing your second first-line centre in a week. So is keeping the opposition from a shot on goal until the 10:12 mark of the initial period (a softie from the blue line by Rangers d-man Karel Rachunek) and a total of only four by the intermission. That's two big first periods in a row by the home team ... Senators penalty killers did a fine job in the early going. Alfredsson had the best chance of anybody on either team during a minor to Heatley as he stole the puck from Peter Prucha and was stopped twice by his buddy, Henrik Lundqvist, on the ensuing breakaway.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: It was brought to our attention that Jaromir Jagr's hair is growing long at the back again. Could this be the return of his once-famous mullet? "No," the Rangers star deadpanned yesterday morning. "I just couldn't find a hairdresser in New York." ... Lundqvist, Mikael Tellqvist, Johan Holmqvist ... is "qvist" Swedish for goalie? .... Aaron Ward on news that a someone was spotted wearing a Colton Orr No. 28 Rangers jersey. "Had to be a buy-a-Jagr, get-an-Orr free (deal)," joked the Gloucester-born defenceman. "And the guy probably just realized, Bobby never wore No. 28 in New York."

BOTTOM SHELF: With Spezza and Mike Fisher out for a few weeks, Bingo callup Josh Hennessy surely realizes this as a chance to establish himself as an NHL regular. "At some point, that has to happen in my career, and this is as good an opportunity as any," Hennessy conceded yesterday. "But right now I'm just trying to do well enough that I get invited back the next day." Good answer ... Curious charging major handed to Chris Neil late in the first period. The reasoning probably had something to do with his rapping Prucha's head off the glass, but then its hard not to with that particular Ranger, who is listed at 6-foot but can't be taller than 5-foot-8 ... Neil had five hits alone in the first period, while swingman Christoph Schubert continued to terrorize opposing defenceman in his role as a hard-charging winger.


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