Butler must shoot or sit

Senators forward Bobby Butler skates against the Capitals at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Dec....

Senators forward Bobby Butler skates against the Capitals at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Dec. 6, 2011. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 AM ET

BUFFALO - What's Bobby Butler's problem this season?

Seems simple enough. He has 24 shots in 21 games. Tough to be a sniper when you're not pulling the trigger.

Having tested goalies just three times in his past five games, Butler was a healthy scratch on Tuesday night against the Sabres.

Butler scored 45 goals in 106 games for the organization in 2010-11, but in 65 periods of play this season he has just two — and he got them both in the same period.

As a guy they're paying over a million a year for this season and next, the Senators want to get Butler going.

"Confidence is a big thing for goal scorers," said coach Paul MacLean, who knew a thing or two about putting the pea in the pond when he played. "You just need one to go in, off your rear-end. But you have to make sure you're shooting the puck. The concern for me is the last couple of games Bob hasn't been getting any shots."

Butler has spent some time on the first line, but probably not enough. Of course, Milan Michalek has become the better option as Jason Spezza's right winger.

"I just need to get my confidence back. If I get the puck, shoot it," said Butler. "I talked with coach it was very positive. Just got to get back to doing what I do."

How come he's not shooting more?

"I'm just not getting the puck ... not shooting enough," he said. "I've been trying to do all the little things ... if I'm not getting the puck I can't shoot it ... a little bit of everything."

He needs to have the best shot in NHL history to put one in from the pressbox, but if a goal scorer isn't even shooting, that's where he belongs.

STARTS AND STOPS

On his new mask that Craig Anderson will debut Wednesday vs. the Bruins and use only when the team wears its heritage jersey is Clint Benedict, the Senators goalie from 1917-24. How much did he know about Benedict? "Zero," said Anderson. "Obviously it's from a different era. Sometimes it's good to read up on some of the history. His is very interesting. He was the first guy to wear that leather Hannibal Lecter mask." The most interesting stat about Benedict comes from the 1926-27 season, when he was with the Montreal Maroons. Benedict's goals-against average was a paltry 1.49, but his record was barely over .500 at 20-19-4. Of the 20 wins, 13 were by shutout ... After Saturday's game, Vancouver fans were accusing Nick Foligno of stomping on the leg of Alex Burrows, who Ottawa fans would say deserved it. "I honestly don't even remember (the incident)," Foligno said, before adding sarcastically: "I was just on fire that night, eh? I'm hitting heads and stomping on people. I'm a danger to myself!" ... Tuesday's game was the 300th of Folgino's career. He did not ask the schedule maker to fix things so it would be in his hometown, but it did turn out that way. His personal highlights include scoring his first NHL goal (which he celebrated with a Mike Foligno leap) and scoring in the playoffs. By this stage, he'd like to have more than one playoff goal and more than 10 playoff games under his belt. "I just enjoy playoffs," he said. "The series two years ago with Pittsburgh was one of the highlights of my career. It was just so exciting. I really thought we had a chance to win that one. You get that close and it makes you really hungry for more." Foligno hasn't done the leap again. "That was just for my dad," he said. "Maybe if I score a big Stanley Cup playoff goal, it'll be just out of pure excitement more than anything."

STUFF I THINK I THUNK

Erik Karlsson's struggles continued. The Senators defenceman has had a rough handful of games, and against the Sabres he also took a big hit — from Milan Michalek — in a collision inside the Buffalo blue line. Karlsson dusted himself off and continued to play when it looked like he wasn't going to be able to ... You are reading this column, and so is play-by-play great Dean Brown. "My thoughts on Cheapseats is it's one of the most enjoyable reads in the National Hockey League," said Brown. "It's where the average hockey fan can find out things about the game you can't find anywhere else." He said more, but my tape recorder is old and I couldn't make it out ... Konopka, who was raised 35 minutes from Buffalo in Niagara-on-the-Lake, was involved in a pretty good scrap with Cody McCormick in the first period. He took a right uppercut that knocked his helmet flying, but he wound up putting the Sabre down with a couple of shots at the end. "I try to play hard every night," he said. "Whatever the coach asks me to do, I'll do. If it's win faceoffs or play physical, or if he asks me to tape sticks in the parking lot, I'll do that too. You've got to be a team guy. The team comes first." ... Was gonna complain that the breakfast buffet at the hotel didn't have any meat Tuesday, but in the overall scheme of things, that's small potatoes ... The Sabres have been much better on the road (8-3-0) than at home (7-9-2 before Tuesday) this season. "We'd like to know the reason, it'd be easy to correct it if we could find out," said captain Jason Pominville. "There's a few hinters here and there. We've said it a lot — you try to overdo it at home. You stay a little extra out there and your shifts get a little too long. You try to make that extra play, but there's no reason to do that. The fans are here to see a win."

KONOPKA KORNER

QMI: You correctly predicted Baylor's Robert Griffin III (RG3) would win the Heisman Saturday. Did anybody else on the planet?

Konopka: "What about that fight in the Cincinati-Xavier game? That's the best basketball punch I've seen. The other guy wasn't looking."

QMI: Yeah, by Cincinnati's Yancy Gates. He's got a wicked right.

Konopka: "I'll fight that guy. See if you can set it up. I want an exhibition. We can give the money to charity."

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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