Eaves' Hugo turnaround

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

BUFFALO -- If Daniel Alfredsson's young lad Hugo was asked to name his favorite Senator, the answer just might be Patrick Eaves.

It's clear to anyone that hangs around the Ottawa dressing room that the two have become fast buddies.

Just as obvious is the fact Eaves is a big fan of Hugo's dad.

After yesterday's practice he was still shaking his head at the pass Alfredsson gave him for Ottawa's first goal Monday night against the Habs.

"No, I didn't yell for it," Eaves said of the what appeared to be a no-look feed from the captain, who was on the side boards at the time. "He's got eyes everywhere. I wasn't surprised when I saw it coming my way because he just knows where everyone is at. He's kind of like Peyton Manning like that.

"I don't know how to describe it. I just wish I had it."

Meanwhile, Senators coach John Paddock and GM Bryan Murray are pretty happy with what they've got in Eaves. He was their best player Saturday in Toronto, and then had another strong game in Montreal. Eaves had a goal, his fourth of the season, but if not for a post and a great save, he would have had three.

"Right from the start we thought Patty looked quite good this year," said Paddock. "I think he trained hard, as all the players did, and he's finally getting rewarded for it a little more lately."

While Paddock figures Eaves has the quickest release on the team, both he and Murray say the 23-year-old from Fairbault, Minn. has really improved his skating from last year, his second with the team.

For that, Eaves credits his brother Ben, who has a master's degree in kinesiology.

"I trained with him in the summer and we put a lot of emphasis on explosiveness and leg strength," he said. "I feel more confident in my skating this year.

"They mentioned that they wanted me to do that at the end of year meeting, so I followed orders and had a good time doing it."

Ben Eaves also worked with his brother in the kitchen.

"He taught me how to eat this summer, and I feel better," said the third-year Senator. "He cooked for me every meal, and showed me how to make stuff. My girlfriend's here now and she cooks for me, the way he cooks my meals.

"I ate every meal out last year, three meals a day. Now I rarely eat out and I know what I'm putting in my body.

"Even if it looks healthy in a restaurant, there's usually butter on the vegetables. My weight's about the same, I feel my legs are better because my energy is better."

Paddock also like Eaves' versatility.

"He's a kind of guy that can play different positions, if you ask him, right wing, left wing, he can play some power play. He's a good pro. He's smart, he knows his limitations. He's not worried about Patty Eaves. He's worried about the team. That's how he plays the game and that's how he thinks the game. When you do that, you get rewarded for it."

Again, Eaves has his family to thank.

"I think that's just the way my parents brought my brother and I up," he said. "It's a group. It's always all about the family and the team you're on. It's the only way you're going to be successful, if you're on a successful team. It's the most important thing."

"I don't even think about it," he said when asked about what wing he prefers. "Wherever the team needs me, I'll be working my hardest."

LINE DANCING: Paddock will stick with the new lines he created in Montreal, for the start of tonight's game anyway. That means Chris Kelly will again team up with Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, while the second scoring line will feature Mike Fisher between Alfredsson and Antoine Vermette.

Spezza and Heatley responded on Monday with three points apiece. On three even-strength shifts with them, Chris Neil had a goal and an assist. Kelly also scored with Spezza and Heatley.

Now Paddock is counting on some production out of the Vermette-Fisher-Alfredsson line.

"It's all right for now," Paddock said of the altered combinations. "We like the look of it. Fish and Alfie are pretty dogged players to play against, besides having some skill. They'll make life miserable for a defence or a line or whatever."

THIS AND THAT: Travelling with the Senators is Bengt Gustafsson, a former star player for Murray in Washington who is now the coach of Sweden's national team. Gustafsson is scouting some players while on his way to Quebec City, where he'll be leading his team into the 2008 world championship ... Former Rough Riders great John Kropke crossed paths with the Senators and their entourage at the airport in Montreal yesterday. Now a defensive line coach with the Alouettes, he was headed back to his off-season home in Chicago. "I try not to goof 'em up too much," the always humble Kropke said of his coaching contributions.


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