Clouston expecting fireworks

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:04 AM ET

TORONTO -- Cory Clouston expects the Senators to have a little fight in them, if not two or three, in their season finale tonight against the Maple Leafs.

Clouston said yesterday that he's okay if things get a little nasty tonight at the Air Canada Centre in the Battle of Ontario.

"I'm all right with that, if it ends up happening. A little bit of passion would be fine," Clouston said following a 35-minute workout at Scotiabank Place. "We're not going to approach it that way. If there's a little bit of extra intensity because of that rivalry, that's great.

"That will keep us involved in the game mentally, physically and emotionally. We're ready to play however they want to, but I don't think it's going to get to that point. It'll be two teams battling hard and two teams trying to win the game. It's going to be a very good game."

The Senators could be without captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has been troubled by a sore back that has required treatment down the stretch. A decision on whether he'll play won't be made until after today's morning skate.

While the Senators and Leafs have finished on meaningless notes before, this is the first time both teams have missed the playoffs together since Ottawa came into the NHL in 1992-93. The rivalry hasn't been the same this year, but there's still plenty of hatred.

The Senators and Leafs have both been playing well of late, which means they'll want to finish with a good effort.

Ottawa winger Chris Neil said the rivalry has improved this season because there are two fewer games on the schedule as division rivals now play each other six times a season instead of eight.

"Both teams are out of the playoffs and you've got guys who are battling for jobs next year, so I think it's going to be a good, intense game," said Neil, who, as a potential unrestricted free agent this off-season, could be playing his last game for the Senators. "It always is. We're just going to go out and play hard.

"Hopefully, we can come out on top. You want to go out and give a good performance. We want to get the two points. To me, the rivalry has picked up a bit. The intensity level is more effective. Sometimes, the more you play them, it can take away a bit and it can become, 'Oh, we've got the Leafs again.' Taking away the two games has helped."

The Senators will get a chance to see former teammate Martin Gerber in the Toronto net for the first time since he was picked up on waivers by the Leafs on March 4. Toronto coach Ron Wilson didn't start Gerber when Ottawa hosted the Leafs on March 9.

"It would be fun to play against him," Ottawa wing Nick Foligno said. "I know him pretty well and a lot of guys in this room would be happy to see him on the ice and get a chance to shoot and score against him.

"I'm sure he'll give us his best game and we'll try to give him our best game as well."

Senators GM Bryan Murray addressed the players for about 10 minutes before they practised yesterday.

He talked to them about the season and indicated with five months to prepare for training camp, he expects the players to arrive in September ready to get off to a strong start.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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