Without jam, Sens are toast

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

They get brushed off like dandruff by a last-place team missing one-third its roster and barely a finger is raised in protest.

Back practicing with each other about 12 hours later, and then the Senators show some fight?

What's wrong with this picture?

Goalie Ray Emery's squabble this time was with Chris Neil, as the two exchanged words and shoves during a workout at the Bell Sensplex the morning after an embarrassing loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Unlike the scrap Emery had with Brian McGrattan in practice a few weeks ago, however, coach John Paddock did not shrug and accuse media interrogators of making something out of nothing.

"That was totally unnecessary," Paddock said of the skirmish. Asked what caused it, Paddock said: "I sort of know, but I didn't hear anything today, and I don't have any comment on it other than that."

Paddock did not feel the blame belonged with Emery.

"What can you say?" Neil started when asked for his take. "The puck was lying there and I just kind of went to whack it away. I don't know if I caught him or what but he had a couple of words to say, and you know I'm not one to back down from anything.

"Both of us might have overreacted."

Emery, who is getting plenty of practice at defending himself both on and off the ice, at first joked about the incident.

"I told him that the Patriots were going to win and he said he thought the Giants were going to at least cover. We'll see what happens in the game," he said, grinning. And then: "He was poking at a puck. Guys are kind of frustrated, just losing and having to practise on a Super Bowl Sunday. It's kind of an edgy group. Sometimes that type of stuff is good for the boys."

When it was mentioned that his coach wasn't putting him on the hook for this one, Emery chuckled again.

PASSIVE PLAY

"I definitely wasn't going to get in an altercation there," he said. "I might have been on the front page of a couple more papers."

Meanwhile, Senators fans should find nothing funny about the team's passive play of late, especially Saturday night. Both the coach and Mike Fisher, he of unquestioned character and leadership qualities, pointed out the lack of determination, grit and desire against a team led by guys named Boyd Devereaux, Robbie Earl, Dominic Moore, Jiri Tlusty and Matt Stajan.

The Senators should be ashamed of themselves.

Where is the passion? Where are "the balls," as Paddock wondered yesterday?

Did you see the way the Montreal Canadiens battled in defeat yesterday?

The Senators aren't showing nearly enough of that jam.

"The last couple of games we haven't been feisty enough," said Neil. "It's showing on the scoreboard. For me, I try to go out and play physical every game ... we need to be more physical, myself included. I think we need everyone to step up."

Right now they're just stepping out of the way. And it looks like the Habs are passing them as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

THIS AND THAT

Daniel Alfredsson will skate today to test his hip flexor strain. He is questionable for the Habs game tomorrow ... Chris Phillips practised yesterday after missing the Leafs game as a last-minute scratch with the flu. "I was holding out until the last minute to give it a shot," he said. "I got an IV before the game but it just didn't come around where I thought I'd be very helpful out there." ... Missing practice yesterday were Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Mike Fisher, Patrick Eaves and Cody Bass. Fisher was given the day off to rest ... Paddock would not name his starting goalie for tomorrow's game against the Habs.


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