A perfect feeling

Danny Heatley from the Ottawa Senators tries to break free from the New York Rangers during first...

Danny Heatley from the Ottawa Senators tries to break free from the New York Rangers during first period play at Scotiabank Place Saturday night in Ottawa. Tony Caldwell/Sun

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Even the most optimistic of players concede it still may be a wee bit early to start comparing the Senators to the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

The Senators are 10-0, counting seven exhibitions, but nobody in their room has yet discussed the possibility of an undefeated season.

Or at least so they say.

"If we go 80-0, come and talk to me," Chris Kelly snickered yesterday, "and I'll break down the last two for ya."

The Senators did extend their flawless streak to 122 days (since the June 6 Cup loss to the Ducks) or three real games when they shut out the New York Rangers on Saturday, and they get their next chance to increase it again with the New Jersey Devils in town for a Thanksgiving Day (3 p.m.) matinee.

Now being first overall and the only team with a chance to sit atop the NHL standings wire-to-wire at this stage doesn't mean a whole lot, but the fact of the matter is points grabbed today wind up just as big as those in April.

And it's never too early to start taking up good habits -- even if it's during the so-called meaningless pre-season schedule.

"Exhibition games are whatever you want to make of them," said Senators coach John Paddock. "But it's always important to win. If it didn't matter, there wouldn't be a scoreboard in the middle of the ice."

Three reasons loom larger as to why the Senators are 3-0 at this point, however.

The production from the Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson line, as the three have accounted for 14 of the 23 points scored. The steadiness of goalie Martin Gerber, who has allowed just five goals and made 102 saves. And the penalty killing, which has been a perfect 20-for-20.

The Senators are outscoring the opposition 1-0 with one of their own in the box. That's courtesy of a short-handed effort by Andrej Meszaros -- set up by the hard work of Mike Fisher -- which stood as the winner Saturday.

The success in killing penalties is in no small part due to the familiarity the "killers" have with each other. Kelly and Antoine Vermette, for example, are into their third season as a short-handed forward tandem.

It's also the third season for assistant coach Greg Carvel, who is in charge of the Senators' penalty killing.

"The confidence we had from last year has rolled right into this year," said Kelly. "Confidence is very underrated. If you've got confidence in your ability, and the people you're playing with, you're going to succeed."

The Senators are pretty confident they're going to see a familiar Devils team this afternoon, despite the loss of a couple of stars and a new coach in Brent Sutter.

"I read where they're not going to trap as much. I'll believe that ... later," said Paddock. "They've still got the best goalie in the game, and Brent has been successful wherever he's been. I'm sure he's got the players' attention. When you've won everywhere, it's easy to command respect.

"The last three or four years Jersey has lost people and everybody says they're in trouble ... and they always finish with 100 points. They'll do it again."

Maybe, but with a 1-1 record, they also have no chance of going undefeated.


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