Senators' game not even close to being on par

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

WASHINGTON -- GM Bryan Murray was under the weather as he accompanied the Senators to St. Louis, Columbus and Washington.

They certainly did nothing to make him feel any better yesterday.

"It's really disappointing," Murray said as he waited to board a bus to the charter flight home following yesterday's 7-4 loss to the Capitals. "They're a skilled hockey team, a good hockey team, but we gave them a lot of room out there for a lot of the game."

As of last night, Murray had no action planned before tomorrow's home game against the Kings. If anything, he's most likely to bring up somebody from Binghamton -- for all the help that will do.

"It sure looked like we were overmatched," Murray said. "I'd like to think we had the ability to play better, but we didn't do it."

While applauding the greatness of Alex Ovechkin, Murray wonders if the Senators gave the superstar winger and his teammates "too much respect."

Said Murray: "We back away and back away ... Ovechkin scores on most goalies in the league from the faceoff circle, as he showed (yesterday)."

Murray, a former Caps coach, admitted he's been in a number of lopsided games in the same building.

"We've done that to more than a few teams in my career," he said. "But to have it handed to you like that is discouraging, frustrating. I thought the guys showed some battle at the end, but to get that far behind ... "

It means they didn't show enough character the rest of the game.

They are young and talented and rich and healthy. But right now, the Senators as a team would be hard-pressed to get through a round of golf.

Right now, the Senators are short on balls.

STARTS AND STOPS

A visit to the Verizon Center these days would drum up fond memories for Ottawa fans. The place is very alive. A great pump-up video featuring Ovechkin on stage leading a band of teammates in a mock concert greets the players as they step on the ice. The crowd bubbles as the anthems are sung. Then the Caps proceed to play a fast, exciting and attacking game that sends people home with smiles on their faces and the anticipation of coming back. Just like the way things were at Scotiabank Place a few short years ago. Heck, even the Caps' "Rock The Red" theme would fit ... Craig Hartsburg acknowledged last week that Filip Kuba has been the Senators' best defenceman this season. (The vote here would still go to Anton Volchenkov, but whatever). Kuba was brutal yesterday. The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder was easily knocked off the puck in two first-period battles along the boards and behind the Ottawa net, once by Alexander Semin and later by Viktor Kozlov. He also provided the screen on both second- period goals by Ovechkin ... The hardest collision of the day involved two Senators, when Chris Neil missed Washington's Brooks Laich with a third-period attempt and drilled Alexandre Picard instead. Picard was slow to get up and went right to the dressing room when he did. An "upper-body" injury would prevent him from returning ... Whatever Brian Lee is going to become, he needs to develop a slap shot before he should be considered a power-play point man. Why he gets to play one right now is beyond comprehension.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Daniel Alfredsson wondered how he would feel for yesterday's game, the third in four days for the Senators, especially after deciding against skipping practice Saturday. He answered it with his play, but we decided to ask the 35-year old following his two-goal performance anyway. "I felt good," said Alfredsson. "I felt like I was 26." The Senators could only wish .... Former Senators D Brian Pothier (post-concussion) is still practising with the Caps, but after a visit three weeks ago with a doctor in Colorado, he's still not sure if when he'll return to the lineup. "I hope so," Pothier said when asked if it would be this season. "We'll see." When he is healthy enough to go, the Caps will have to figure out something to do with their salary situation. They're up against the cap now ... Don't be surprised to learn that Jason Spezza's back is acting up again. During a stop in play in the third period, Spezza was on the ice in front of the Ottawa bench doing some stretches that a fellow athlete who has had a sore lower back would recognize ... Ovechkin is so solid. On one shift he crushed Jarkko Ruutu (okay, so No. 73 was looking for the puck in his feet, but still), then remained on his feet while Chris Kelly took a run and then bounced off him.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM ...

For all their dingling and dangling (Ken Hitchcock terminology) in Ottawa territory, the Caps only had four shots on goal through the first nine minutes. Along with Alfredsson's first of the game, the Senators had the second-best chance in the early going when Neil was stopped on a wraparound by Brent Johnson .... Yesterday's game notwithstanding, why do the Senators always start so damn slow? And since when did they give up forechecking? ... News learned Saturday night that Columbus G Steve Mason has mono disturbed us for a couple of reasons. First, that a goalie whose energy supply should be drained by a virus was able to shut out the Senators Friday night. Second, that I shook hands with Mason Friday morning.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The correct way to put it is to say that Alfredsson, Mike Modano, Joe Sakic, Martin Brodeur and Shane Doan are the only active players to have reached the 900-game plateau with their original teams. I think.


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