Hard work Sens' 'magic wand'

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Senators coach Craig Hartsburg doesn't believe in a quick fix.

"There's no magic wand. I wish there was a magic wand for all of us. It's just hard work," Hartsburg said yesterday. "We all have to continue to put our nose to the grindstone and work. Players, coaches and everybody. There's been no shortage of that in practices. Everybody has been pushing, we've just got to continue that."

After closing out November with a 4-2 loss to the Islanders on Saturday to finish the month with a mediocre 4-5-3 record (11 points), the Senators open December tonight against the Thrashers at Scotiabank Place with an eye toward consistency.

While the Senators maintain that they're better than their record indicates, it's time they started showing it. The loss to the Isles was another step in the wrong direction for a team that sat six points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference heading into play last night.

"It's so competitive in the league that you're not just going to go on a roll. There might be three or four teams in the league that can do that. You've just got to give yourself a chance to win every night," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "With the exception of the last game, I think we've been pretty consistent in doing that."

LOOKING GOOD

RW Chris Neil was supposed to miss 4-6 weeks following knee surgery, but it looks like he could be ready to make a quick return. Less than two weeks after having surgery to repair a tear in his right knee, Neil was back on the ice and took part in the 45-minute workout. He wouldn't rule out playing tonight, but it's more likely he'll return Saturday against the Penguins if the medical staff gives him the go ahead. "It is feeling pretty good. I was confident to stay on with the big guys," said Neil. "Just to get back out with the guys is a little extra motivation and gives you a little jump in our step." Neil said he needs to see how the knee reacts before making a decision on when he'll return. "I wouldn't rule out anything. If the swelling is minimal, there's a better chance of me playing (Saturday) than there is if there's a lot of swelling," said Neil. "Every day it has felt better. If I keep going in that direction, then anything is possible. I always expect to come back quick. Every injury I've had, I've always been able to come back quick." The Senators will get RW Shean Donovan (shoulder) and D Alexandre Picard (wrist), who both missed the game against the Isles, back tonight. If that's the case, D Brian Lee will likely be returned to the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton.

OFF THE POSTS

With his former team in town tonight, Senators W Dany Heatley officially launched his book, Dominant Dany Heatley, with a splashy get together last night at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier. The 90-page children's book was co-authored by Calgary's Lorna Nicholson. Some of the proceeds from the book will go to Hockey Canada. Heatley said response to the book has been positive. "It's been good. I've heard a lot of good things from people. It hasn't been out there that long, but the stuff that I have heard has been positive," said Heatley ... Senators C Dean McAmmond didn't practise yesterday because of the flu and won't be in the lineup tonight.


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