The Pizza Line is back to being all-dressed.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson was reunited with his family and friends in his return to his hometown yesterday and will be back with old friends Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza on one of the NHL's most explosive lines when the Senators open the regular season in Stockholm Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Senators coach Craig Hartsburg had the trio skating together in practice at the Scandinavium arena -- after reuniting them in Saturday night's exhibition win over the Montreal Canadiens -- and said that's the way things are going to stay for now.
Rookie Jesse Winchester, who had worked the right side with Spezza and Heatley through most of camp, was on a line with Antoine Vermette and centre Mike Fisher, who skated for the first time with his teammates since suffering a groin injury.
"It's the million-dollar question every day, really," said Hartsburg. "We wanted to try some things through camp. There will be times in the year we will try some things again...you would think that it would work apart and it might if we kept with it. At this time, I think it is best for our team if we keep doing it that way.
"You don't keep four lines together for 82 games. That line we need to be dominant. They have to be good every night. That's the responsibility of three top players. Our team needs them guys to be our best players. From there, we've got some really good lines after that."
Chris Kelly was on the left side with Nick Foligno in the middle and Chris Neil on the right to make up another unit while three of Cody Bass, Dean McAmmond, Shean Donovan and Jarkko Ruutu will make up the fourth unit.
WINCHESTER SHOWED WELL
Hartsburg said he wanted to give Winchester an opportunity to get some confidence playing with top players to give him every opportunity to have a successful rookie training camp. Winchester showed well in the circumstances, impressing the coaches with his hockey sense.
"We've seen some good things from a guy like (Winchester). We wanted to get him with really good players to help his confidence. We think he can be a good player right away. (Foligno) stepped up the last part of training camp. Those guys need to be good players for us behind our top line."
The Pizza Line -- so named because there were many nights when they earned the crowd at Scotiabank Place a free slice when the Senators scored six goals and won -- was at its best in the 2006-07 season when it led Ottawa to the Stanley Cup final. It got off to a hot start last season, but overuse in the early going and injuries took their toll.
When asked if playing with Alfredsson was what he wanted, Spezza replied: "Yes and no, I think. We know for the long run of the season, we can't play together for the whole year. Obviously, Alfie is fun to play with and the three of us work real well together. We're always creating stuff. I think (Hartsburg) is going to mix it up quite a bit. Some nights he'll change it, some nights he won't. When we're together we'll play and try and score goals and when we're not, we'll make sure everyone gets involved in scoring goals."
Everyone knows the Pizza Line can score. How long the trio stays together might not depend on their success, but how well the other lines do in the scoring department. There's little point having the big three together if the equation doesn't equal wins.
"When you put that line together does it put more pressure on them or on the other three lines? I don't know if that's the way you should look at it. Maybe you should," said Hartsburg. "Vermette and Fisher each had 20 goals last year. There's no reason why they can't continue on that path."