Sens wait for H1N1 shots

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

The Calgary Flames now lead the league in shots.

Those would be H1N1 flu shots and shots to the organization's reputation after the club arranged for its players and their families to get the vaccine ahead of other Alberta residents.

The Senators aren't going outside the normal channels or even making the flu shot mandatory for players.

“When it becomes available, we would encourage the players to do it,” said GM Bryan Murray, “but we have to wait our turn.”

Coach Cory Clouston said getting the shot is up to the players.

“You can’t force someone to needle themselves and take an injection,” he said. “We have to wait just like everybody else. If and when it becomes available to us, if they chose to take it, great. If not, we’re taking every other precaution as far as trying not to share water bottles, we’ve got hand sanitizers ... (team doctor) Dr. (Don) Chow has done a real good job with that.”

Centre Jason Spezza said he has been taking extra precautions, but isn’t sure if he’ll get the shot.

“I think I’m going to wait for the second batch of flu shots, do my research and do my due diligence. I’m not in a rush to get it right now.

“In our house, we’ve made a little bit more conscious effort to wash our hands when we come back into the house. For us being public figures, we’re shaking hands all the time with people and meeting different people, so I’ve definitely tried to wash my hands a little more and stay away from people who are sick.

“You can’t live in fear. I’m not one who worries too much, but washing hands is definitely something we’ve added to the ritual of coming into the house.”

Spezza said he didn’t think the Flames gained an edge by getting the shots.

“If teams thought it was a competitive advantage, they’d get us to line up for two hours to get shots," he said. "I don’t think it gives them a competitive advantage.”

Saving face

One of the areas the Senators could use some improvement is in the faceoff circle. They went into Wednesday’s action ranked 28th in faceoffs at 46.6% (315 wins to 361 losses). “I wouldn’t say it’s a concern. It’s something we need to get better at,” said Clouston, who pointed to the change in personnel, including the trade of Antoine Vermette (to Columbus for Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick) for the dropoff. The return of Spezza Thursday and maybe Jesse Winchester — back from a conditioning stint in the AHL after a knee injury — could help. “If you look at who we’ve had in the lineup the last couple games compared to who we had taking faceoffs last year ... other than the last 18 games, Vermette took a lot of draws, Spezz took a lot of draws and he’s had a real good year. Jesse took draws for us and (Mike) Fish(er) took draws for us. Last game, we’ve had only one of those three or four guys from last season. Peter Regin, Ryan Shannon, Chris Kelly, Nick Foligno, those guys haven’t been faceoff guys for us up until this last little while here. We’re just trying to make them better. Peter Regin, Ryan Shannon, Chris Kelly, Nick Foligno, those guys haven’t been faceoff guys for us up until this last little while here. We’re just trying to make them better. It’s a skill you can improve on, you can watch video, study the opponent, so we’re trying to do everything we can to improve in that area.”

Ruutu’s got goals

Surprisingly offensive superpest Jarkko Ruutu has four goals already and is well on the way to challenging his single-season best of 10, in 2005-06 with the Canucks. “He deserves the success. He’s worked hard and gotten himself into position,” said coach Cory Clouston. “He does have a decent knack around the net. He’s given himself an opportunity and his linemates have complemented him.”

Zeroed in

While Ruutu has been a pleasant surprise, Spezza and Jonathan Cheechoo are still looking for their first goals of the season. What advice does Clouston have for them? “They’re pressing already. That’s the worst thing you can do. Just go out there and play hard, play smart, get yourself in position and eventually it’s going to go in. No different than what we told the whole team last game. You have 43 shots in two periods...the good thing is you’re getting the opportunities, you’re getting the chances. Stay with it. It’s a long season. We still have 70 games left and a lot of good things can happen in that time period."

Odds ’n’ ends

The Bolts are not likely looking forward to the possibility of a shootout. They are 0-4 this season and were 3-10 last season (though they are 21-21 all-time). The Senators are 0-1 this season and 11-24 all-time ... The Senators will honour our soldiers with the sixth annual Canadian Forces Appreciation Night. More than 2,200 members of the military and their families will be at the game ... There were 2,750 tickets available as of last night.

Injuries

Senators: D Anton Volchenkov (elbow), two weeks.

Lightning: D Paul Ranger (personal leave), out indefinitely.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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