Alfie gashed, Sens bashed

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Daniel Alfredsson could have passed as a Maple Leaf.

Following Saturday's big gag, the Senators captain looked like he had been raked.

As Alfredsson spoke about the 3-2 loss to New Jersey, he wore a fresh, inch-long cut dangerously close to his left eye, as well as a scrape on his left cheekbone. Moments earlier, with his team trailing by a goal in the third period, he was clipped by the high stick of a Devil. No penalty was called.

“They said they didn’t see it,” Alfredsson said, shrugging. “I can understand, it’s towards the glass and the ref is on the other side ... it’s high sticking, and it probably would have been four minutes and given us a chance, but there’s nothing you can do about it now.”

Curiously, the Senators’ slowly improving power play isn’t getting much practice time in games. Only the Calgary Flames have had fewer opportunities than Ottawa’s 51. Part of it can be blamed on the players, who can draw more penalties by moving their feet more.

But there is also a suspicious discrepancy at play.

The Senators had two power plays to New Jersey’s six. Against Florida a week and a half earlier, they had one power play to the seven enjoyed by the Panthers. The night after that, they had three power plays while Tampa was awarded six.

Ottawa’s penalty killing units have been good, but they’re working way too much. They easily survived the Devils’ first three power plays, then were beaten on each of the next three.

On the season, the Senators have been short-handed 67 times. Only nine teams have had more disadvantages.

While the Senators’ power play has improved to 23rd in the NHL, their penalty killing has slipped to ninth.

Along with all that which the Senators have to start doing better, they unanimously agree on what they have to stop — taking so many penalties.

Coach Cory Clouston, who was quick to point out that the tide turned Saturday when “we started a barrage to the penalty box,” also mentioned the Devils were “better positionally.” You could take that to mean Senators were spending too much of the night sitting next to the timekeeper.

“We’ve just got to find a way to stay out of the box, that’s all. Period,” said Clouston. “Whatever it may be. Whether we feel we’re getting the short end of the stick ... we’ve got to find a way to stay out of the box.”

Of the three damaging penalties against the Devils, two were in the offensive zone (Peter Regin, Jesse Winchester) and the third (Chris Campoli) was for flipping the puck into the stands. A good penalty is stopping a scoring chance. Those are bad.

“It’s definitely disappointing,” said Mike Fisher. “We’ve got to be more disciplined. We’re taking penalties we shouldn’t be taking at the wrong time of the game. It just hurts the momentum. You’ve got to kill penalties, it gets the other team some confidence. We beat ourselves (Saturday). It’s frustrating.”

Said Alfredsson: “Even though our penalty killing has been good, we’ve got to cut down on it a bit, because it ruins the rhythm for us, especially here at home. We’re going pretty good, we don’t need to give them a reason to get back in the game.”

Nobody felt worse than Campoli for taking a delay-of-game penalty the Devils capitalized on to score the winner.

“Against New Jersey, you can’t afford to make mistakes like that,” he said. “It’s something I’ll learn from, the team will learn from and we’ll move on.”

Before last night’s games, the Senators had three of the top PIMs leaders in the league. Chris Neil was No. 1, with Matt Carkner seventh and Jarkko Ruutu eighth.

Carkner, however, has been called for only three minors, as he’s had a league-leading seven fights. Twenty of Neil’s 60 minutes have been through fighting majors as well.

“I think we have to stay out of the box,” said Ruutu. “We just have to find a way. It’s been going on for awhile ... we just have to find a way.”


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