MONTREAL -- On a night when the Senators were hoping there might be answers to the muddled picture on their blue line, there only seemed to be more questions.
The Senators looked less than ordinary in their 5-0 loss to the Canadiens last night at the Bell Centre and now there is just one more chance -- tonight at Scotiabank Place against the Habs -- for management and coaches to get a grip on the situation before picking the 24 players who will go to Sweden tomorrow.
The nicked-up Habs, now 3-1 in the pre-season, had a largely no-name lineup, but their big guns got the job done last night, as Senators goaltender Alex Auld, playing his first full game of the pre-season, saw the Habs' Kostitsyn brothers put on a show. Andrei had a goal and two assists and Sergei a goal and an assist. Montreal defenceman Andrei Markov had a goal and two assists.
The Senators, who couldn't keep up with the Habs, managed just 21 shots on Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Veteran defencemen Jason Smith and Chris Phillips were left out of the lineup to give the Senators a better look at the guys fighting for jobs on the blue line: Swingman Christoph Schubert, veteran Luke Richardson, young Brian Lee and Brendan Bell. None did themselves any favours.
"I don't know if anybody can take anything positive out of that," said Bell. "If you really want to dissect it, I didn't give the puck away and have it wind up in our net again."
That's what happened to Bell Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"There were red flags," said Senators coach Craig Hartsburg. "We didn't compete or check. There are some bad habits we have to break. It wasn't just the defence, it was everybody."
There are rumours the Senators have interest in Vancouver Canucks defenceman Mattias Ohlund, "but he makes $3.5 million," said one source. "The Senators would have to get rid of some salary to make that work."
Senators winger Chris Neil showed pretty well again. With the departure of enforcer Brian McGrattan, there are going to be a few nights when Neil is going to have to do the dirty work. For the second straight game, Neil had a good scrap, this time with Montreal defenceman Alex Henry. The two went toe-to-toe in a game that took a nasty turn in the second period after Dany Heatley -- wearing the captain's "C" in the absence of Daniel Alfredsson -- knocked down Tomas Plekanec with a cross-check.In the third period, rookies Zack Smith of the Senators and P.K. Subban of the Habs had a good scrap.
Last night's game seemed to reflect the way a lot of people regard these two teams: The Canadiens with a lot of speed and skill and the Senators with some questions about how their re-tooled blue line will be able to come together.
The answer last night was not the one the Senators wanted.