Bad break for Sens

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Isn't this just the way the Senators' season has gone?

They finally got some momentum, look like they've finally got their minds in the right place -- with a modest little streak where they've earned seven of a possible eight points -- and they drop into the schedule's black hole of a five-day all-star break.

After a brisk practice yesterday morning, Senators coach Craig Hartsburg said good-bye to his players until Monday. The coach hopes the momentum will still be there when the returning Senators host New Jersey Tuesday.

"You'd probably like to keep playing games, but you can't do anything about that," said Hartsburg. "There are some guys (the break) probably comes at a good time."

The break should be enough to get defenceman Anton Volchenkov, who has missed eight games with an upper body injury and a sore back he picked up in the Senators' skills competition Sunday, back in the lineup. It's probably not long enough for forward Shean Donovan, who hurt his leg when he crashed into the boards in the final turn of the fastest-skating challenge and missed Tuesday night's 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals.

Dany Heatley, who has four goals in his last two games, is the Senators' lone representative in the all-star game in Montreal, despite having a sore calf after getting hit with a shot against the Caps.

"On one hand, you maybe want to keep going and get the games in when you're going well," he said. "But everybody can use the four or five days to get re-energized and be ready for the second half."

HEATLEY AN ALL-STAR

Heatley, the MVP of the 2003 all-star game when he scored four goals, will also participate in the accuracy shooting contest in the skills competition Saturday.

His teammates are scattering to the four points of the compass -- some up to Mont Tremblant and at least one heading for Florida.

'We're feeling pretty good now," said forward Nick Foligno, "but the best thing is to get away from the rink and rest some tired bodies, some banged-up bodies, and really be ready for the second half. We really want to make the playoffs. It feels good going into the break knowing we're playing the right way and that's a step in the right direction, but we've still got some things to clear up."

The Senators are better served not to contemplate the enormity of the task that faces them in terms of getting back into the playoff race. Going into last night's games, they were still 12 points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference held by the Carolina Hurricanes and 11 points back of the ninth- and 10th-place teams -- the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Senators were 15 points out of the eighth spot after losing to the New York Rangers Jan. 10, but even with their improved play this week, they haven't been able to whittle it to less than 12. The Senators do have the fact they have played the least number of games in the Eastern Conference going for them (four games in hand on the 'Canes and Penguins, for instance.)

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said the club's task is made harder by the three points being awarded in overtime and shootout games.

"It's tough to make up ground, but we're going to keep going and put on a good push for the playoffs," he said.

Here and there

The Senators returned centre Peter Regin to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League yesterday. The Dane made his NHL debut Tuesday night, playing just over 10 minutes and didn't look out of place ... Hartsburg said rookie goaltender Brian Elliott (3-1-1 since being recalled from the minors) will not be sent back to the AHL, where he had been selected to start in that league's all-star game.


Videos

Photos