Reeling Sens to stagger attack

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:44 PM ET


 Zdeno Chara used his posterior to stop a Maple Leafs shot on Monday night, but how about using the same body part or any other to bump into Ed Belfour?

 If the Ottawa Senators are planning to crash Belfour's crease tonight in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final, they're not letting anyone in on it. But with Belfour's heroics in back-to-back shutouts that could help put Toronto in complete command of the series with another win tonight at the Corel Centre, it may not be a bad idea, even at the risk of taking a minor penalty.

 Not so, the 6-foot-9, 260-pound Chara said.

 "I know what would happen," Chara said yesterday in Ottawa. "I would end up in the penalty box and that is not what I want to do. A power play can make the difference in the whole series. I think there are different ways to beat him than to run at him.

 "I don't think he is in our heads. We realize he is beatable."

 SCORING CHANCES

 It's not difficult to realize what the Senators talked about in a team meeting yesterday morning. A few of them used the term "staggered attack" in talking about the importance of getting better scoring chances. In other words, don't all rush to the Leafs net -- without thinking much about what you are doing -- at the same time looking for the same thing. Coach Jacques Martin said "it's a matter of being persistent and resilient."

 Captain Daniel Alfredsson thinks the Senators will break Belfour tonight, but didn't offer up any names as to who might score.

 "I don't think he will keep us off the scoresheet three games in a row," Alfredsson said. "Once we get the first goal, things will open up for us."

 What must be a source of frustration for the Senators is that it is not impossible to get under Belfour's skin. If he becomes unglued and loses his concentration, logic suggests the Sens will start scoring. But like Chara, rough-and-tumble forward Chris Neil played down the suggestion that someone gets too close for Belfour's comfort.

 "It's not even about that," Neil said. "He definitely has a temper back there, but you have to walk a fine line and be disciplined about it. You have to play both sides of the line but do it without taking a penalty."

 Many of the Senators mentioned that last year they played another excellent netminder in the playoffs, Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, and they were able to beat him. But the Devils won the conference final in seven games.

 The Senators also are keeping their fingers crossed that Belfour's luck runs out. He made some saves on shots in Game 2 where the puck bounced off another player and to him, and there were situations when the puck harmlessly bounced over the stick blades of the Ottawa players who otherwise could have scored.

 The Senators led the NHL with 262 goals during the season, so shooting blanks is not customary.

 Whatever happens, the Sens know they can't go into the Air Canada Centre for Game 5 on Friday night down 3-1 and their Stanley Cup hopes hanging on a precipice.

 "It's still early in the series but it is a big game," defenceman Wade Redden said. "It's important to stay positive."


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