Leafs not on menu every night

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

So much for that lift they were going to get seeing their championship banner hoisted to the rafters at Scotiabank Place.

So much for the better all-round effort that was expected of them after coach John Paddock's team strolled through the first two periods of Wednesday's opening-night squeaker in Toronto.

Oh, they won again, thanks to some more late magic. But most of their night wasn't pretty, Paddock said, because they were busy being too cute.

"Not by design," said Paddock, "but again we saved our best for last."

The Senators were outshot 32-17 in the first 40 minutes of their first real game at The Bank since June 4. Hero Daniel Alfredsson argued that the stat is misleading, as Toronto fired many of its pucks from the perimeter.

Nonetheless, Ottawa didn't test Vesa Toskela enough in the goalie's first game wearing Leafs garb. Not nearly.

"I thought we were playing fine, we had a 2-0 lead," said Paddock, who then watched his team run into penalty and coverage trouble. "We have the puck and they're getting all the shots. It's like, why? Well there is a reason why."

Low percentage plays, too many "little circles."

"All of a sudden, they have a 3-on-2," said Paddock. "We take a half-second longer making circles, looking for something cute."

And he wasn't referring to female spectators in the crowd, either.

Paddock's obviously not disappointed in taking the four points and he knows there will be games the Senators play well and walk away with nothing. It evens itself out.

But somebody better tell the players the season has started, and yes, just like last year, games are at least three periods long.

Otherwise, what's going to happen when they face a good team?

STARTS AND STOPS: Dany Heatley was clearly miffed at Darcy "Mother" Tucker as the two jostled for position prior to a neutral zone faceoff in the first period. Heatley even barked at Tucker as the play went into the Ottawa end, but spoke in louder volumes when the tide turned to the west. Crossing the blue line and with a good angle to shoot, Heatley instead whipped a pass through the slot to Alfredsson, who became a trivia answer (Toskala's shutout string in a Leafs jersey was snapped by who?) ... At the time, Brian McGrattan looked like he was scowling from his spot on the Senators bench after Wade Redden's second fight Wednesday night. Maybe he just had gas, McGrattan admitted yesterday. "He's got two fists," the Senators enforcer said yesterday when asked how he felt watching the slick defenceman goon it up. "He can handle himself. I thought he did a pretty good job. That went a long way towards showing guys he's ready to battle, not that there was any doubt. We've got a lot of respect for him."

BETWEEN PERIODS: Is that Martin Gerber or Martin Brodeur? For a while, it was hard to tell, especially with the black mask the guy was wearing while his new one is being (wink, wink) painted. Guess the season snuck up on both the goalie and the designer ... Most encouraging for Senators fans should be words that came from Jason Spezza's mouth after the morning skate. "There's no surprise that me and Dany talked a little before he signed," said Spezza, who will no doubt be tempted with a Group II offersheet if he doesn't extend his contract before becoming a restricted free agent in July. "We have every intention to make this work. (The Senators) have done a good job of leaving some room (under the cap). I want to be winning hockey games. You can be making all the money in the world, but if you're not winning, it's not fun." ... Nick Foligno found out early how to get a big cheer out of the Ottawa fans. Just run a Leaf, in this case, Pavel Kubina, into the end boards ... Gerber didn't allow his first goal until the 28th shot directed at him by the Leafs. They scored their second on the 30th shot.

HMMMM ... Redden added to his league-leading penalty minute total by six minutes ... An aside: 67's owner Jeff Hunt will tell TSN's Brian Williams that his group expects to have a "conditional" franchise for Ottawa by the Grey Cup. The condition, of course, is if the city does the right thing and sells the local consortium of developers the money pit that is Lansdowne Park.

BUTT ENDS AND BEER LINES: Senators director of communication Steve "Smokey" Keogh is leaving the team to be the manager of communications for the Canadian Olympic Committee. This is sad news for the media members who cover the Senators regularly, as his company and help will be missed. It's probably a relief, however, for the ladies who prepare hot dogs in the Bell Centre media room. They were outmatched trying to keep pace when Keogh was on a good chow-down.


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