Schedule shuts Sens out

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

It's the same type of holiday the high-flying Colorado Rockies have been forced to enjoy the past few days.

Nobody else has been able to cool the Senators so, much to the chagrin of coach John Paddock, the schedule maker is taking another crack at it.

"No, not really," Paddock said, after Saturday's victory over the Panthers, when asked if he was looking to a full seven-day break before the next game in New Jersey. "We're going to make the best of it, the very best we can under the circumstances. But no, I think it would be nice to be playing like Tuesday."

THOROUGH BEATING

No wonder. The Senators have lost just once, to the Hurricanes, in their first nine games. (Once in 16 games if you count the pre-season). Their 16 points has them first overall in the NHL.

And their thorough 4-1 beating of the Panthers was among their top all-around performances yet.

Of course they don't want to be put on hold.

Alas, there is no choice in the matter. So with the spare time to kill and hoping to keep the competitive juices flowing, Paddock is bringing his troops on a three-day bonding break in the Muskokas.

"As a coach, you worry about everything that is real and half the things that aren't," he said when asked about the fear of his team falling out of its up-tempo rhythm. "Challenge, concern ... we're going to do the best we can to maintain the edge or whatever. We'll practise really hard on Wednesday and Thursday ... (but) I think as much as anything, what will help us the most through it, is the fact that our team is just a more mature team, a hungry team, and that's based on the experience they went through last year."

The players are looking forward to the getaway, which is going to include a golf tournament between teams picked, in part, by captain Daniel Alfredsson.

"I wasn't going to be doing any gardening, put it that way," deadpanned Dany Heatley. "I think it'll be good. I think it's more to just get away from everything, go hang out with each other, play a little golf, and have a couple of good relaxing days.

"I think there's a little bit of a competition involved. Different events. Golf, for example, is one event. I think it's just about hanging out.

"You know how it is. If we were here for six days ... six days of practice, that gets pretty old pretty quick. It'll be good, kill two or three days, then get back at it Wednesday."

The trip also provides an opportunity for four players -- Luke Richardson, Nick Foligno, Shean Donovan and Randy Robitaille -- to spend some time away from the rink with a team they weren't a part of last year.

Alfredsson, who is nearing his 35th birthday, has the hottest hand on the team. His six goals and seven assists leave him tied for fourth in league scoring.

The captain isn't asking for time off now, but he's not turning it down, either

"I'm looking forward to it, but I'm always a positive person," Alfredsson said with a chuckle. "It is what it is. You make the best of it."

Meanwhile, Foligno, examined at the hospital after being hit from behind into the boards Saturday, has only a stiff neck and is expected to practise with the team tomorrow.


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