Gathering no meet and greet

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

NEW YORK -- While the Senators rank near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, they likely lead the league in one category: Meetings.

Instead of holding a practice in Long Island before heading off to Manhattan yesterday, Senators coach Craig Hartsburg chose to hold 1-on-1 meetings with each player in an attempt to help shake Ottawa out of its doldrums.

While Hartsburg and his staff meet with the players as a group almost every day and GM Bryan Murray delivered the team a stern message Friday, nothing has worked as the Senators enter tonight's game against the Rangers on a four-game losing streak.

"I want to make sure they understand the situation is urgent and we've got to continue to focus on the things that will give us a chance to win," said Hartsburg. "Instead of talking to them as a group, I want to talk to them individually about it."

But when Hartsburg talks about a sense of urgency, he means wins and losses. He wasn't planning to sit anybody down to tell them the situation is grave and if the club doesn't get back on a winning track, Murray is going to clean house.

"It's not my job to threaten that there will be changes," said Hartsburg. "My job is to make sure these guys understand there's a certain way we have to play to make sure we have success."

Scoring a couple of goals would sure help the cause.Captain Daniel Alfredsson is the poster boy for the Senators' struggles. He hasn't scored since Oct. 24 against the Ducks -- a stretch of 10 games.

The Senators have the fewest even-strength goals in the NHL (20) and, to hammer home the point, Alfredsson's three goals this year have all been on the power play. Centre Jason Spezza broke a seven-game skid when he scored late in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Islanders.

"I'm having chances, but I'm not putting it in," said Alfredsson. "I don't think I'm gripping the stick, but it's not happening naturally right now. I've just got to find a way to put the puck in the net. We can't seem to get momentum we need as a team. To do that, we've got to score."

Hartsburg said there were positives against the Islanders and the Senators need to build on those.

"One of the things we'll talk about with each guy is that in the first period, we had the right energy and mindset," said Hartsburg. "But we got off of it (when we need) to be the type of team we were in the first period. If you don't have success right away, you can't change.

"To me, that's what's happened this whole season. We had that urgency (against the Isles), but we didn't stay with it. We've got to come back with that urgency, but stay with it."

NO NEIL

Senators RW Chris Neil won't be in the tonight. He left in the first period Saturday with a knee injury after getting hurt just before a fight with Islanders D Tim Jackman. While Neil stood in there and won the tussle against the bigger Jackman, he confirmed he was hurt by a hit just before the fight took place. "I got hit and I knew there was something wrong," said Neil. "When I got up, (Jackman) was there with his gloves off. I tried to get settled in the best I could. The rest is history." Neil said he was hopeful he'll be able to skate this morning, but Hartsburg has already ruled him out. His spot in the lineup will be taken by LW Jarkko Ruutu, who will return from a two-game suspension ... AHL callup W Ilya Zubov will play again tonight for the Senators.


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