Battle of Ontario needs punch

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

Hatred, schmatred.

The Battle of Ontario lacks punch.

Especially with Chris Neil out of the Senators lineup.

When the Maple Leafs called up 6-foot-3, 230-lb. winger Andre Deveaux to make his NHL debut last night, there was suspicion the former Belleville Bull/Owen Sound Attack would try to make a name for himself by beating on an Ottawa opponent. Probably had something to do with the fact Deveaux had 831 penalty minutes in 279 regular-season games since turning pro, or that he had been in a grand total of 53 fights since patrolling the OHL rinks.

"I fight and stuff like that, (but) I don't necessarily consider myself a huge heavyweight," Deveaux, who had six goals and 54 PIMs in 13 games with the Marlies, said after the morning skate. "I'm willing to go with almost anybody, but at the same time that's only one aspect of my game."

The Senators really don't have that aspect to their game, at least not to the point where they'd want to talk about it.

When Jason Smith engaged in his first scrap as a Senator against Dominic Moore in the second period, he was only the fifth player on his team (Neil, Mike Fisher, Jarkko Ruutu, Cody Bass) to earn a fighting major this season. And Smith threw all of one punch, a short right that Moore may or may not have noticed.

Now, this is not to say there won't be a few bumps and bruises that need tending to on both teams this morning. Some of the hardest hits Scotiabank Place has seen this season were dished out last night, with Fisher and Luke Schenn making the loudest noises on their respective squads, and a Fisher hit on Schenn being the game's stiffest check.

But really, it's not much of a battle unless somebody is seriously popping somebody else, is it?

STARTS AND STOPS

They announced a crowd of 19,703. They did not announce a sellout. When was the last time an Ottawa-Toronto game was played before less than a capacity crowd? Ever? ... Schenn, who recently turned 19, had impressive back-to-back shifts in the second period. He drilled Antoine Vermette while the Senators winger sacrificed himself in front of the Ottawa net to clear a loose puck, and then shortly afterwards levelled Shean Donovan behind the Toronto goal. For the trifecta, Schenn snuffed out a Jason Spezza rush in a 1-on-1 situation. The kid kind of reminds you of a young Chris Phillips, doesn't he? ... Chris Kelly had two of the game's best chances. He undressed Leafs defenceman Anton Stralman before being stoned by Vesa Toskala in the second, then fired off a Vermette setup that either hit the post, crossbar or Toskala in the third. Kelly's goal-less drought now stands at 11 games ... Frustration was evident on both sides. Dany Heatley took a baseball swing with his stick at the boards after his slapshot nailed Toskala in the mid-section. Paval Kubina did likewise after he was stopped by Alex Auld ... Donovan was one of Ottawa's best forwards before disappearing to the dressing room in the second period.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM....

The NHL website was pimping this Toronto-Ottawa game up to and just past the opening faceoff as "Back to the Battle." The subhead? "Sens, Leafs continue to be the best in Alberta." Huh? ... Spezza shot down rumours that the main character in the Rogers MY5 commercial is either a relative or his stunt double ... Speaking of look-alikes, Senators have started calling Martin Gerber "Super Mario." Not because Gerber has back problems or is turning into a great centre or aims to purchase part of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It's because the moustache he is sporting as part of the team bonding movement makes him look like Super Mario of Nintendo fame ... Out-of-town visitors are starting to consider the $10 meal served to media, scouts and team brass at Scotiabank Place one of the lamest in the entire NHL.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Fisher's return was greeted by one of the night's loudest cheers. He showed no ill effects from a sore knee, as he outraced the pack to catch up to Donovan and score Ottawa's first-period goal off an odd-man rush ... Before his callup, Deveaux was serving a four-game AHL suspension for a "kneeing incident" in Manitoba. "There was a scrum and I ended up on top of a guy," he explained. Was it an accidental kneeing incident? "Kinda," he said ... Deveaux took a swing at the Senators bench, near the McDonald's logo, in the first. Guessing either Deveaux is more of a Burger King fan or Ruutu was chirping him ... Spezza took two penalties deep in the offensive zone in the first period, and a third at the Toronto blue line in the middle frame. At least he was working his way back to acceptable infraction territory, right?


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