Vermette snaps at practice

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

Antoine Vermette smashed his stick to pieces over the net at practice yesterday after missing the target in a 2-on-1 drill.

At least the Senators winger hit the net with something.

He's got two goals after 22 games and is on pace for just seven.

"It's not easy," he said of battling through this lean stretch. "We're all human here. On that 2-on-1, I really wanted to score and I missed the net there so I wasn't too happy. I think it was the stick. We got it straightened out. The next 2-on-1 we scored."

Vermette, back on a line with Chris Kelly, has had some chances lately, for whatever that's worth.

"You're going to hit stretches like that in a season where things don't go your way. Eventually you get one or two and it falls into place," he said. "It's not easy. At the same time, you don't want to fall into the mistake of being frustrated. It just generates negativity and you don't need that at all."

Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said Vermette might have put pressure on himself to increase his offensive totals.

"It didn't come from us, in his own mind he thought that he had to do more offensively whether it's because of the new contract, or whatever. We need to get Antoine playing the same kind of game he's played the last couple of years. In the last four or five games he could have easily had four or five goals. If he has a better mindset of 'I have to be a good, honest two-way player,' he'll score," said the coach.

LEAVE LOSS ON THE ISLAND

Hartsburg's message to his team yesterday was to not let a poor game in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Islanders lead to a stretch of poor games. "We were disappointed in the way we played. We're in a situation where we thought we were starting to play pretty well. For that game, we didn't. We've been searching all year for why (we have) the up and the down parts of our season. The biggest thing for us now is to make sure that's only a one-game situation. Throughout the course of our start here, we've played three or four games in a row and then we seemed to want to drop off for three or four games. The importance right now is to make sure we catch it and we don't continue on that path," he said. "You're going to be up and down a little bit all year, but we have to make sure in our down games we find a way to win," said Senators C Jason Spezza. "Consistency is hard to find in this game. We've got to find out what makes us a good team on nights when we're not at our best. That's kind of the challenge for the next little bit. We're six points out of the playoffs right now (having played three fewer games) the team that has the last playoff spot. There's still a lot of hockey left. We've got to win games more consistently, but I don't think it's too daunting a task."

DONOVAN ON MEND

Senators W Shean Donovan, one of the team's bright spots up front this season, said he thinks he'll be able to play tomorrow night. He missed the last game with a sore shoulder he picked up on a hit from Maple Leafs rookie Luke Schenn. "It felt pretty good," said Donovan. D Alex Picard tested his sore wrist with some shooting and stickhandling yesterday. "It wasn't positive," he said. "We'll try it again (today)." W Dean McAmmond is unlikely to play tomorrow after being sick for the last few days. W Chris Neil, who had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus 11 days ago, could practise today.

LAST WORD TO ALFIE

We'll finish up with a few words from Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson on his team's plight: "When you do well everything is nice and easy. We as a team now have to find a way to get better and get points. If we don't, it's going to be a long season for us. Usually you find out the character of teams and individuals in tough times. It's not through easy times because everybody just rides the wave. Now is the time to bear down for everybody and we'll see what happens."


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