Hartsburg has shift of thinking

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

It says something about the Senators that coach Craig Hartsburg gave shifts to rookies 20-year-old Zack Smith and 21-year-old Brian Lee in the final 2 1/2 minutes of Saturday's game on Long Island, when his team was trailing by one goal.

It says he didn't have a lot of faith in other options.

While Smith and Lee were returned to Binghamton yesterday -- signifying expectations that injured winger Shean Donovan and defenceman Alexandre Picard will return for Wednesday's game at Scotiabank Place against the Thrashers -- Hartsburg is left hoping for someone other than Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson to score.

Especially when even those three are hit and miss these days.

On Saturday, Heatley scored his team-leading 12th of the season and Alfredsson added his sixth, which for the captain, through 21 games, is below par.

"It's getting there," Alfredsson, who now has three goals in the last five games, said before facing the Isles. "I'm getting chances, I just haven't put it in as much as I have in the past. I don't know if there's a reason or not. You just got to keep getting the chances. It's no secret. Get in the dirty areas and shoot the puck as much as you can."

"I feel good in practice. I'm putting the puck where I want it. Now it's just got to happen in games, and start going in."

In three losses to the lowly (their fans apparently hate that reference) Islanders that they'll be sure to rue, the Senators have scored five times.

Heatley has two, while Spezza, Alfredsson and Filip Kuba have scored the others.

But that most Senators are slumping is no secret. Nick Foligno is the top goal scorer of those not on the Big Line, and he has four. Notable blank shooters include Mike Fisher (three goals), Antoine Vermette (two goals) and Chris Kelly (one goal).

And from their top six defencemen, the Senators have a grand total of five goals this season.

Even the lowly Islanders have 11 from their blueliners.

"We're playing really good defensively now," Alfredsson said before even that part of their game slipped Saturday night. "If we can get a few more goals we'll make lives easier on ourselves."

DUBIOUS DISTINCTION

A recently launched website (hockeygodonline.com) by vilified former hockey coach and agent David Frost pays tribute to but one Senator. Frost has Bryan Murray 10th on his list of Top 10 NHL GMs. "What he left behind in Anaheim was key to their Cup and is work in progress in Ottawa," Frost wrote. If you're confused about "is work in progress in Ottawa," then join the club.


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