Let 'em rumble

TIM BAINES

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

The Senators should send a strong message to the Sabres tonight.

And they should do it with their fists.

No need to wait until the second or third period to go after the Sabres' elite players.

Do it on the first shift.

With a forward line of Brian McGrattan, Chris Neil ... and at centre, Ray Emery.

Yep, suit Emery up as a forward to start the game.

No need to worry about who wins the faceoff. McGrattan, Neil and Emery will quickly be punching out whatever sacrificial lambs the Sabres send out to start the game -- preferably Tomas Vanek and Daniel Briere, Buffalo's two most gifted players.

And while McGrattan, Neil and Emery are cooling their heels for five minutes ... maybe one of them gets tossed for instigating the massacre ... Emery can be changing into his goalie equipment, ready to spell Martin Gerber when the major penalty is up.

Crazy? Unprecedented? Far-fetched?

Maybe, but Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and the rest of the NHL have to know that the Senators won't be pushed around. At least not like they used to be when fight-fearing Jacques Martin held the reins.

Under Martin, the Senators were the "before" in those 98-lb. weakling ads.

They wouldn't fight, wouldn't stick up for teammates, some wouldn't go into the corners (hamstrung by that old Inge Hammerstrom eggs-in-the-pocket ailment) ... and ultimately they'd get hit and hit some more, then get knocked out of the playoffs, year after year.

A VEIN EFFORT

Current Senators coach Bryan Murray has no qualms about unleashing his inner beast. With veins popping out of his forehead and his fists clenched, he looked like he was ready to smack the living bejeezus out of Ruff following Thursday night's dustup in Buffalo when Andrew Peters and his henchmen were obviously sent out on a mission to pummel Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza.

It's time for the Senators to stop being the whipping boys of the NHL ... it's time to send a message loud and clear: They won't be intimidated.

The Senators will squirm when they hear the notion that Emery should start at forward. Ridiculous, upper management will harumph: "What if Emery gets suspended? What if he gets injured? Why would we do something so ridiculous?"

Why not?

What was the water-cooler talk yesterday? Were Senators fans talking about nifty stickhandling or pretty goals.

Highly unlikely. They were talking about Sugar Ray Emery's fists of fury. If only every Senator had that much fire in his belly.

Let 'em go. Let 'em rumble.


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