Bieksa a good, gritty fit for Sens

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:14 AM ET

Senators GM Bryan Murray could be eyeing some help from the West Coast.

Trying to get back into the playoff race as the Senators embark on a two-game road trip against the Rangers Sunday and Canadiens Tuesday, Murray is working the phones to see if he can make a change or two.

The Senators are looking to move D Brian Lee, but they also need to make a big deal.

The talk in NHL circles is Murray would like to add some grit to the back end — Matt Carkner excepted, the Senators’ blue line lacks sandpaper — and make it tougher for the opposition in front of the net.

But that’s “not easy to find,” a league executive warned.

Vancouver GM Mike Gillis has been trying to deal D Kevin Bieksa for a while (insert denial here) and will sooner or later.

However, the Canucks are being targeted by a lot of teams looking for blue-line help.

They’ve got both Bieksa (making $3.5 million US), who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and D Keith Ballard ($4.2 million), who has been a healthy scratch at various times this season.

Bieksa would be a better fit in Ottawa and the Senators have liked him for a long time.

“He’s got grit and he’d make it a little tougher for guys around the net. He’s dirty and that’s the kind of player Ottawa needs,” said the executive. “The Canucks are going for a Stanley Cup this year, they have to make sure Sami Salo is on track to return.”

The morning skate

No wonder the Senators are having trouble scoring. They need someone with imagination in that dressing room. Former Senators C Bruce Gardiner used to swish his stick in the toilet to try to get a few goals out of it. Now, there doesn’t seem to be anybody in the room going the superstitious route. “(Nobody) that I know of,” said captain Daniel Alfredsson. “I’m probably not the right guy to ask because I’m not superstitious. You’ll have to ask some others.” So, Nick Foligno, you do anything different? “Not that I know of. I got nothing for you,” said Foligno ... Prime Minister Stephen Harper, fresh off congratulating the Alouettes on their Grey Cup victory last Sunday in Edmonton, made the short trek from 24 Sussex to Scotiabank Place. Harper spent the intermissions posing for photos ... A quick whistle saved Brian Elliott at 2:31 of the second. It didn’t appear he had control of the puck, but the play had been blown down before Paul Gaustad could push it into the net ... Hit of the night: Tyler Myers on Jarkko Ruutu near the Buffalo blue line. He got caught, bigtime, midway through second. Runner-up: Chris Phillips on little Nathan Gerbe.

Things that make you go hmmm ...

How does a guy get a black eye from a dance move? Maybe Sabres F Tim Connolly needs lessons. Connolly denied rumours he suffered eye lacerations as a result of being punched in the face by teammate Derek Roy at Ryan Miller’s charity event in Buffalo. “I was backstage, preparing a dance move and I just fell,” Connolly told Buffalo media. “It was an accidental thing. It wasn’t ‘Roysie’ punching me in the face ... I got a little work to do on (the dance move). I saw Shaquille O’Neal doing it on TV. It needs a little work.” Connolly should have let the Roy story stand. It sounds better.

C'mon man

Sabres RW Jason Pominville wins Cheapseats’ Most Honest Player award for 2010. “I wasn’t very aware (about the Senators’ struggles) until I read the paper (Saturday) and saw what (players) were talking about,” said Pominville. No kidding, he actually admitted he reads the papers.

Things I think I think

The Senators have to lead the league in short-handed breakaways allowed. Mike Grier had a great chance in the first, but hit the post ... At some point, we’re going to see F Bobby Butler called up from the club’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton. The Senators might be holding off to see if they can make a deal first ... A team that should take a chance on D Brian Lee: The Blues. They want to add a blueliner and have had success with reclamation projects. See former Maple Leafs D Carlo Colaiccovo for details ... W Nick Foligno came to the defence of the Senators coaching staff, saying they’re giving the players a good game plan. “(The answers) have got to come from within this team,” said Foligno. “We’re going to fine-tune some things and that’s where coaching comes into play, but for the most part they’ve done a good job of getting us ready.” ... Senators owner Eugene Melnyk loves his hockey teams. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for people to see one of the greatest junior teams ever,” he told a Toronto newspaper about his Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, who will host the Memorial Cup in May.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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