Sens not feeling blue

Senators coach Bryan Murray chats with defenceman Andrej Meszaros during practice yesterday at...

Senators coach Bryan Murray chats with defenceman Andrej Meszaros during practice yesterday at Scotiabank Place. (Sun Media/Errol McGihon)

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

During intermissions, Bryan Murray usually lets his players catch their breath for a few minutes before he enters the dressing room.

On Tuesday, however, he wasn't about to wait. The Senators coach had a wee bit of a butt-kicking to deliver, and defencemen Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros weren't going to sit around long before getting it.

Ottawa's second defensive pairing -- which had been on the ice and more than partly to blame for both goals against as the New York Rangers grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead -- picked up its play in the final 40.

Redden and Meszaros were on for two goals for, including the latter's game decider, as the Senators stormed back for a 3-2 victory.

"I just made a comment that, as a pair, they're really important to us," Murray said yesterday. "They're on for the first two goals against of the game, and it had a little bit to do with just competing for the puck. And that's all I talked to them about.

"After I jumped on them a little bit, in between periods, I thought (Meszaros) played much better, with more emotion. And not only because he scored, but I thought they became more forceful as a pair.

"We need that from them down the stretch and in the playoffs."

At yesterday's practice, Murray took time to chat and explain his reaction the night before to both players.

"I asked him how he was today," Murray said when pressed for details about the conversation he had with Redden, "because I don't know whether he's used to getting ... talked to."

Redden, who has struggled through an inconsistent, injury-plagued season after signing a contract that made him the team's highest paid player, admitted being singled out like that was a rare occurrence.

'DIDN'T NEED IT'

"It hasn't happened much over the years, to be honest, and not because I didn't need it, probably," said Redden. "(Former coach) Jacques (Martin) wasn't one to do that too often.

"It's good, I mean, you're sitting there thinking to yourself you're not doing well, so it's good to hear it sometimes. Everyone is on the same page. Everyone wants to do well. You've got to take those things constructively. You can't be pouting if something like that happens."

While Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov have emerged as one of the league's top shutdown pairings, Redden and Meszaros are counted on to add more offensive punch as well as responsible defensive play. They have had their difficulties, to be sure.

Redden had a plus-35 to go along with his 10 goals and 40 assists in 65 games last season. In 2006-07, he is a plus-2, with six goals and 28 assists in 53 games to date.

Meszaros' drop off is even more spectacular. As a rookie who played every game last season, he posted a plus-35 along with his 10 goals and 29 assists. Through 70 games as a sophomore, he is minus-11, with seven goals and 25 assists.

Murray says he hasn't considered sitting Meszaros as a healthy scratch, to give him a different perspective of the game.

"There are times you take guys out for whatever reason ... (Tuesday) night I took a player out because I wanted to get Patty Eaves in," said Murray. "But I think conversation, showing them video, teaching ... most often times has a better result. I think when you take him out and the finger's pointed at him publicly, I think sometimes it does more to hurt than to help. My approach has always been, if I believe in this guy, then as long as I can, I keep him in.

"It's not like he's a fifth, sixth defenceman. This guy should be in our top four here for a number of years. So teaching and talking and encouraging, to me, is the better thing to do."

Said Meszaros: "I'm trying to cut down on the plus-minus, but it doesn't work right now.

"It's obviously a different year. Last year, everything went well. This year there were higher expectations. I had some good games, bad games. Now I just have to stay more consistent, because of the playoffs and everything.

"I just want to be on the ice when we score goals, not when we give up goals. It's just a stat. I'm not looking for that. I could be minus-20, but as long as we keep winning and go all the way, I'll take that." 


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