Sens’ choke starts early

Nov 21, 2006 2:32 AM

Ottawa would have been the choice of many NHL followers to reach the Stanley Cup final. And the Senators could, if last place teams are allowed in.

It’s still early Ottawa fans to the panic. In fact, the slow start may be a good thing. The Sens have been known for great play during the regular season and choking early In the playoffs. Maybe it’s just role reversal.

This week’s early highlight may be Yaromir Yagr’s 600th career goal. Yagr, now a fixture with the NY Rangers, spent the early part of his career in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday

Hurricanes at Isles: The host Islanders are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games thanks to the goaltending. Rick DiPietro inked a long-term deal this year, but backup Mike Dunham gave the Isles a huge lift with 43 saves in a 4-1 road win at Florida. The defending Cup champion Hurricanes are 7-2-1 in their last 10. Home dog play. ISLES.

Canucks at Wings: Vancouver is in the midst of a tough Midwest road trip that includes Thanksgiving in Nashville. The Red Wings have caught fire, going 8-1-1 in their last 10. Detroit is not about to take Vancouver slightly this time around. RED WINGS.

Devils at Coyotes: New Jersey is 8-1-1 in its last 10 and in solid shape to come out with a win at Phoenix, which owned the lowest point total in the West. With no game Thursday, expect an all-out effort from Jersey. DEVILS.

Thursday

Canucks at Preds: The only Thankgiving Day contest on the board. We noted last week how Nashville has now become a wide open, offensive machine. The power play could wear down the Canucks, who are off back-to-back nights. PREDATORS.

Friday

Canadiens at Sabres: These two teams have hooked up for some beauties in recent play. Afiniganov is back and healthy again for the red hot Sabres, leading the NHL in total points. SABRES.