Addition by subtraction for N.Y.?

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Islanders coach Scott Gordon is crediting a Feb. 20 trade with the Senators as part of the reason why his team has played better of late.

Not so much the addition of Dean McAmmond, but the departure of Chris Campoli and Mike Comrie.

"You know we had a couple of bad apples, too, that we got rid of," Gordon was recently quoted as saying in Newsday by Mark Herrmann. "As a result of that, the chemistry in the locker room is what you would expect from a team that pulls together."

Heading into last night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the 30th-place Islanders were 7-3-2 since the trade with Ottawa and 6-2-1 since veteran Bill Guerin was dealt to the Penguins.

Gordon has repeatedly said he had no problem with Guerin.

Asked yesterday about any added incentive in facing their old team tonight, both Comrie and Campoli played down the notion.

"I think that any time you face friends in this game, you always want to compete hard and win," said Comrie, who is expected to return tonight after missing two games with the flu. "Everybody has their own situation. I'm happy to be here. I haven't thought too much about the past."

Campoli has readily admitted that, like Gilligan, he wanted off the Island.

"In my opinion, the situation wasn't great," said the 24-year-old defenceman. "I felt I needed a change and they accommodated me. It didn't get ugly. I know (Islanders GM) Garth Snow well. We've got a good relationship. I've got a lot of respect for him. I guess he felt he could move on, too, and we found a situation that worked for both of us. I'm thrilled to be here and be an Ottawa Senator."

While Comrie has two goals and three assists in 11 games, Campoli has scored three goals and added five assists in 13 games with the Senators.

"Some good, some bad. Little bit inconsistent," Senators coach Cory Clouston said about the young blueliner. "But when he's on his game, he definitely adds to our team. Basically right now, we're just working to get his game more consistent. It's not even necessarily game by game, maybe even more shift by shift, or period by period, that he shows some flashes of being a top, top defenceman in both ends of the ice, and then there's the times when he has made mistakes that everyone can see.

"At times he's been very good, but he's got to work on his consistency. He knows that, and he knows that he wants to be that player that game in and game out has his 'A' game."

No doubt, Campoli will want to bring it tonight.

The Ovechkin 'Celly'

Topical around the Senators dressing room yesterday was Alex Ovechkin's celebration of his 50th goal Thursday in Tampa. If you missed it, the great Capitals winger dropped his stick, then hovered his hands around it, as though it was too hot to touch.

Said Chris Kelly: "He's got to rub his hands together. I understand what his concept is, but he's got to rub his hands, like keeping them warm. Just like that, no one understood what was going on. If I scored 50 goals, I would do something like that, too.

"Hockey needs guys like that. He brings people to the games. If guys score 50 goals, they can do what they want. That's the way I see it."

Said Nick Foligno: "I don't really think it's that big a deal. If you score, it's exciting. It's hard to do in this league. You obviously don't try to embarrass the other team, but if you're excited and you worked hard to get that goal, you should show some excitement. Obviously, my dad (Mike) did the jump. Maybe the game has changed a little bit, but I think it's nice when guys show emotion."

Said Daniel Alfredsson: "Maybe a little much, but I like his thinking."

Neil hits 500

RW Chris Neil will play his 500th NHL game tonight with the Senators. Only Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Chris Phillips were on the team when Neil broke into the NHL in 2001-02. "It's been great to be with one organization this long," said Neil. "I think it just says a lot about the organization and how they drafted. It feels good to be part of an organization that you're able to stay around and play 500 games with. Hopefully, there's a lot more left to play in an Ottawa uniform."

DON.BRENNAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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