A separated right shoulder that is expected to keep Dany Heatley on the shelf for six weeks will cost the Senators sniper a chance at joining some very exclusive company.
Only 12 players have ever posted three consecutive 50-goal seasons. Heatley, who had 25 goals through 43 games, would have been a decent bet to become the 13th.
"That was probably my first thought," coach John Paddock said yesterday morning. "He probably would have attained it. Nobody else has done it for a while. I'm disappointed for him for that."
The last player to register at least three straight 50-goal seasons was Brett Hull, who hit the mark five times from 1990-94.
Mike Bossy leads the elite group with nine (1978-86) 50-goal campaigns in a row. Wayne Gretzky (1980-87) turned the trick eight times in succession. Guy Lafleur (1975-80) had six. Phil Esposito (1971-75) did it five times. So did Marcel Dionne (1979-83). Steve Yzerman (1988-91), Jari Kurri (1984-87), Michel Goulet (1983-86) and Tim Kerr (1984-87) had 50-goal seasons four consecutive times. Mario Lemieux (1986-88) and Rick Vaive (1982-84) had three in a row.
Paddock said that without Heatley, the Senators are going to have to raise their defensive consciousness, much the way the team did in finding success without Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher last season. As for Heatley, well, by yesterday morning he was taking the injury in stride.
"I was fortunate in the last two years to play all the games," said Heatley, who last night missed his first game in a Senators jersey after playing 207 in a row. "Eventually there's going to be a setback.
"It happens. It's frustrating, but it's hockey."
As for missing the all-star game, Heatley shrugged.
"I'm more disappointed missing the games with us," he said.
The positive spin from Paddock?
"He will be a healthy, rested player in March, April and June. It's definitely better to happen now than March 12 or April 12."
STARTS AND STOPS: You can probably count on a suddenly feisty Daniel Alfredsson giving Ottawa a 50-goal season in the absence of Heatley. Last night, the captain started "Alfie" chants when he rammed 6-foot-6, 245-lb. defenceman Andy Sutton hard into the side boards ... Alfredsson's Lady Byng hopes took a hit when he was called for two minors in the first period. He entered the game with just 15 penalty minutes on the season ... Not only is Alfredsson the oldest first-line player on Ottawa's top two hockey teams, he was also the only one still standing at the end of the day. When Jason Spezza left last night's game for precautionary measures after being rocked by Freddy Meyer, he joined Heatley and 67's Jamie McGinn, Logan Couture and Michael Latta on the sidelines ...
BETWEEN PERIODS: While breaking a mirror is supposed to bring seven years of bad luck, shattering Plexiglas apparently is worth at least one night of same. Spezza didn't see it coming, however. "A snap shot," he said with a grin after knocking out a pane during the morning skate. "I must have hit a sweet spot, eh? I felt good about it, though. Who says I can't shoot?" ... For a guy who just lost his best scorer for about two months, Paddock was in an upbeat mood at his morning media conference. Probably had something/lots to do with the fact he had just beaten the best team in the NHL the night before. "Who's the best player? Who's the MVP?" he asked reporters. "(Henrik) Zetterberg? Alfredsson?" Who gets your vote, coach? "You know what I think," he said, before asking about No. 11's two-goal performance against Detroit. "He was so good from start to finish. It was a typical night for him, but with a higher-energy game and a better opponent, he rose to the occasion."
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: With the Senators needing to land a top-six forward before the deadline and because Mike Comrie is working on a one year-deal, it was suggested to the Islanders C that he might be their man -- again. "I come with baggage," joked Comrie. Maybe, but girlfriend Hillary Duff is one fine piece of Samsonite ... Patrick Eaves is a fan of both the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. He's been to Lambeau Field and even worn a Cheesehead. Some of them fit too tight, though. Yesterday, Eaves was trying to sell a story of how this passenger on a plane that was in trouble pulled on a Cheesehead and wound up surviving the crash. "Look it up," he said. "It's all over Wisconsin." So is a whole lot of spoiled bratwurst, but we're not buying that, either ... New Islanders tough guy Tim Jackman better not get into a kicking, boxing or leg-wrestling match. The guy has an extremely skinny pair of twigs holding up that 6-foot-4, 210-lb. frame of his.