Ruu and boo birds take flight

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

With the crowd divided in its loyalties, the one unanimous noise at Scotiabank Place tonight should be a reaction to Senator Jarkko Ruutu.

No matter that half the fans will be "booing" and the other will be "Ruutu-ing."

Meanwhile, an interesting subplot to the second Montreal-Ottawa meeting of the season will be the Habs' handling of Ruutu. Last week at the Bell Centre, the pesky winger tried to get under their skin every chance he could, and at times it looked like he succeeded.

Ruutu also tried to knock a block off -- his elbow to the head of centre Maxim Lapierre earned him a two-game suspension -- and caused Habs fans to pull their hair out when he was ejected.

Yesterday, Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said he "can't predict" what's going to happen tonight as far as Ruutu is involved, but also clearly defined the two roads his players can take.

"He has a job to do and he gets paid to do that job," Carbonneau said. "It's up to us to either take care of it or let him make a fool of himself."

Lapierre shrugged off the head shot, or suggestions he might be looking to even the score.

"That stuff happens and it's over now," said Lapierre, who denied calling Ruutu over to the bench later in the evening -- a claim the Senator made in explaining the actions that saw him ushered from the game. "The first thing is the team first, and that's the only thing that matters."

Be surprised if Ruutu and Lapierre are not included in the game's highlights for something other than scoring.

Feeling low

Daniel Alfredsson admitted to an uneasy feeling upon looking at yesterday's morning paper. Not this column, this time, but the NHL standings. Specifically, seeing the Senators last in the Eastern Conference.

"I look at the standings every day ... I think it's our obligation to do that," said Alfredsson. "We've got to know where we are and what we've got to do.

"Throughout my career here we haven't been at the bottom a lot. It's almost like, 'Let's go here.' We're in a tough situation right now. We're facing adversity. We've just got to pull together and we'll see if we can come out of this."

Chris Kelly said the basement can be a springboard for the Senators.

"I think we can use that as a motivator to turn things around," said Kelly. "You do get upset when the team's not doing well. I am not happy with the way things have gone, the way we played and where we sit in the standings. I'm confident we'll still make the playoffs and do well."

This and that

Mike Fisher was relieved his knee injury turned out to be nothing more than a sprained ligament. "Hopefully it's a case of a little bit of rest, a lot of therapy and I'll be back at it soon," said Fisher ... Bad news for an Ottawa team that has had trouble scoring goals with but five in its past five games -- the Habs are determined to tighten their checking. "The biggest thing for us right now is the defensive part of the game," Habs captain Saku Koivu said yesterday. "We've got to have the mentality to win the games 1-0 and make sure we're not giving odd-man rushes, or getting 40 to 50 shots against." ... A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday to introduce Jason Spezza as the "latest NHL star to join the roster of Reebok Hockey endorsees." ... Injured RW Chris Neil will be signing autographs at the McDonald's on Hazeldean Rd. from 4-5 p.m. today to help launch the Upper Deck/McDonald's Ice Heroes hockey cards.


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