Easier to win at beginning of season

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:40 AM ET

The Senators are trying something a little different this season.

They're leaving the gate on the right foot, rather than tripping over a couple of lefts.

Remember how they only had two wins six games into the 2006-07 season, and that they needed a shootout for one of them?

Remember how they fell to 6-10-1 after a 6-3 loss to the Habs on Nov. 13?

Remember how they needed to be almost perfect from Dec. 23 on to get home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs by finishing fourth in the conference?

They sure do.

"We realize how hard it was to win all those games in the end," Jason Spezza said yesterday morning. "We put ourselves in a tough position."

With tomorrow's visit to Broadway, the Senators will have finished off a seven-game-in-11-day corner store (7-Eleven) start to the season.

From there, they have four days off and only three games the rest of the month.

"It's important for us to feel good about our game going into that big gap," said Spezza.

Against the Carolina Hurricanes, however, the Senators shouldn't have felt too good about their game at all.

For much of the night, they looked like they were taking one of their days off ahead of schedule.

STARTS AND STOPS

"It's lazy, lazy and cheating," coach John Paddock said when asked about the many odd-man rushes his squad presented the Hurricanes. "Certain players do it more than others, certain players get away with it more than others. Then you see the responsible ones, like (Chris) Kelly and (Daniel) Alfredsson, and they hardly ever do it." ... Brian Elliott was a little surprised at the media scrum waiting for him following yesterday's morning skate, mere hours after he showed why he is considered the best prospect in the Senators' organization. "I definitely had a lot of messages on my phone, from people who didn't know I was playing and saw the highlights," the 22-year-old Newmarket native said of a 3-1 victory in his NHL debut against the Thrashers on Wednesday. "It was fun." Elliott, who didn't find out he was starting the game until Tuesday, appreciated that nobody else knew at all. "It was just as well ... it helped take some of the pressure off," said Elliott, who history will show started his career the same night as Montreal's Carey Price, albeit much quieter ... Cam Ward, who out of gear looks more like a flight attendant than a goalie, was the only reason the Senators trailed 1-0 instead of led 3-1 at the first intermission. He made great saves off Joe "Uh Oh" Corvo, Patrick Eaves and Alfredsson.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Corvo taketh and Corvo giveth away. Moments after bringing the Senators to within one goal with a big slap shot, he inexplicably tried a wrister through two Carolina players standing in his face out by the blue line. Cory Stillman blocks it, Eric Staal scores into the empty net on the breakaway. What were you thinking, Joe? ... Senators were unabashed in their opinion of Jesse Boulerice's cross-check to the head of Ryan Kesler in Wednesday's Philadelphia-Vancouver game. "I thought it was really bad," said Paddock. "In some ways, I thought it was worse than (what happened to) Dean McAmmond, because you're using your stick." Said Wade Redden: "I'd rather see someone punch a guy in the face than stick him in the face. It reminded me of Dave Brown's (cross-check to the face of) Tomas Sandstrom." And that one must have made an impression on Redden, because he was 10 when Brown received a 15-game suspension for the incident ... The loss was Martin Gerber's first in regulation since Dec. 10, a span that covered 17 games.

HMMMMMM...

Don't believe everything that comes out of Dean Brown's mouth during Senators broadcasts. During Wednesday's game in Atlanta, Brown told listeners that Thrashers D Alexei Zhitnik was a Tilley Hat distributor in Florida. Not true. Brown also spoke of a promotional giveaway that saw the first 500 fans through the doors get a free gun rack. He made it up. "Sometimes," Deano admitted sheepishly, "the broadcast has to be deciphered to a certain extent." Nope, don't believe everything Dean Brown tells you -- and he'd be the first to tell you that ... It's clear Eaves has been studying at the Jason Spezza School of Dipsy Doodle, the way he dangled Tim Gleason while drawing a second-period penalty.

LAST CHANGE

While saddled with mono, 67's W Jason Bailey is apparently working as the Hurricanes assistant athletic trainer -- unless that's a different Jason Bailey ... At least one Senator is keen on the idea of starting next season with a couple of games against the Penguins in the Czech Republic. Kelly has an Uncle Drew, who married a local five years ago and has lived in Prague since. "It's a great place ... it'd be fantastic if we started the year there," said Kelly. Most others would probably prefer the shorter flight and just play the games in Pittsburgh.


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