Anxious Lee on flood watch

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

ATLANTA -- Forgive Brian Lee if he's a little distracted these days.

The Senators defenceman has been keeping close tabs on the news about the flooding of the Red River on the North Dakota/Minnesota border, where he grew up. His parents still live there and they've elected not to evacuate their home in Moorhead, Minn.

Lee, 21, has been in constant contact with his parents, and he is hopeful they're going to be fine. About one-third of households in the city have been asked to evacuate, but Lee's parents have decided to stay in their home because they live on higher ground near the river.

Lee has been reading newspaper reports, watching CNN and trying to stay updated on the situation.

"I'm hoping they're going to be okay. They've got sandbags and they're just sitting and waiting right now to see what happens. They were told to evacuate, but they want to stay," Lee said following the club's skate yesterday at the Thrashers' practice facility.

"When I spoke with them, I just wanted to make sure that they had enough sandbags. If they didn't, I was going to call up some friends to go over and help them load up some more sandbags. Let's just hope the river doesn't get too high."

The flooding is affecting Moorhead and nearby Fargo, N.D., on the other side of the river.

"This is a tough time for the Moorhead-Fargo area," said Lee.

Lining 'em up

The Senators could have a new look tonight against the Thrashers at Philips Arena. Ottawa coach Cory Clouston moved LW Dany Heatley to play with Mike Fisher and Ryan Shannon in yesterday's practice, while Nick Foligno skated with C Jason Spezza and captain Daniel Alfredsson. Clouston said that's the way he plans to start the game. "That doesn't mean it's going to stay that way during the game. As you guys know, we juggle (lines) at times during the game. What we hope to accomplish there is a little bit of matchups and also trying to get some simplicity on some of those lines," said Clouston. "At times, I think both lines are guilty of being a bit too fancy. The last game, we were doing that in the neutral zone. Hopefully, we've got a little bit better balance (on the new lines), with some skill and grit. A little bit more of a simple lineup." Heatley said players are used to shifting between different lines. "The lines get mixed up from time to time, and this year they've been mixed up more than any other year. I know Fish and Shanny very well, and I feel I can play with those two guys," said Heatley.

Down the stretch

Spezza said the players haven't given up hope of making the post-season. "There are nine games and we've got to string together nine games," said Spezza. "I think it's just more important for us not to worry about it. We need a lot of help from a lot of people. We want to do everything we can individually. We've got to do our part by winning games and then let the rest take care of itself." The Senators aren't used to being in this position. "It doesn't change the approach we've had since (Clouston) came in," said Alfredsson. "We've got something good going, and we're just trying to win every game and give ourselves a chance to win every game. We'll see where we end up. We've just got to prepare. Win (tonight) and then go from there. I don't think about (how far out of the playoffs they are). The next game is the focus."

Off the glass

Expect G Brian Elliott to start against the Thrashers. He made 28 stops in a 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes Wednesday. "Brian might have been our best player overall," said Clouston. "I thought he was really solid and really comfortable. They had better chances and he had the toughest saves for sure." ... The Senators expect to have Lee back from an upper-body injury tonight. He was a late scratch against Carolina. Clouston said he'd like to keep D/LW Christoph Schubert in the lineup. That decision will be made following this morning's skate.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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