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Senators Watch: ASG break puts halt to momentum

The good news for Dany Heatley is that he’ll at least be playing and practising this weekend. The bad news for his Ottawa Senator teammates is that they won’t.

Perhaps it’s only fitting that in this season from H-E-double hockey sticks that the all-star break would fall at the worst possible time for the Senators. Going into this weekend’s festival of no hits, the Senators might be playing their best hockey of the season. (Yeah, we know, but points in four straight games and seven of a possible eight represents heady times for this group.)

It’s a shame that it all has to come to a screeching halt for a team that seems to have finally rediscovered its scoring ability with 15 goals in the past four games. It’s too bad they can no longer carry the momentum given them by rookie goaltender Brian Elliott, who is 3-1-1 with a 2.18 goals-against average and .924 save percentage since being summoned from Binghamton.

At least Heatley, who represents the epitome of a streaky scorer, will have a chance to keep playing. The lone Senators representative for the Eastern Conference enters the all-star weekend with four goals in his past two games.

The truth is, the Senators have almost certainly dug themselves into too deep a hole to even contend for a playoff spot, even if they do play out of their minds in the second half of the season. Not only do they have to make up at least a 12-point deficit (pending the result of Wednesday night’s Florida-Dallas game), but the likelihood of doing that and jumping ahead of five teams into a playoff spot makes it almost impossible.

Yet it would have been nice for the Senators to at least keep the good feelings going for a little while longer, instead of going a full week between games.

The time off will give Elliott a chance to cool his heels a little in anticipation of a busy stretch-run. Elliott has given the Senators no reason to doubt that he is their goalie of both the present and the future. He has proved he can handle the NHL game and the experience he gains this season will serve him well when he takes over the No. 1 job in 2009-10.

Too bad it took them until February to find a goalie who can stop pucks from entering their own net and rediscover their ability to score on the other one.

This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.

Ken Campbell is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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