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Sens seek replacement

The Ottawa Senators will have to go on without their No. 1 centre for at least 14 games. That's what in store for the Sens after Jason Spezza injured his knee against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and is out for four to six weeks.

Fortunately, the all-star break gives Ottawa a week's grace in late January. Replacement Mike Fisher is a stop-gap first-liner. He's really just a solid No. 3 player with great speed.

Senators GM John Muckler may need a Band-aid solution, whether that's Craig Conroy in Los Angeles or Vaclav Prospal in Tampa Bay so he stays in the playoff hunt. But he has little cap room.

Snow does homework

Everybody got a good laugh when the New York Islanders named backup goalie Garth Snow their general manager this summer.

Snow, however, gets high marks for reducing his salary cap load by $5 million after moving Alexei Zhitnik and former Oilers winger Mike York to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Isles now have enough cash to add a scorer at the trade deadline in late February, They might be able to re-sign the unsung Jason Blake, Snow's best forward right now.

Snow might dangle forward Robert Nilsson, son of Oilers scout Kent Nilsson, at the deadline.

Lightning strikes twice

Jacques Demers, who was coach and GM in Tampa Bay after leaving the Montreal Canadiens, knows the squeeze his buddy Jay Feaster is

under right now to make a deal.

Goaltending was his problem last season and again this season. Feaster gambled on former Columbus Blue Jackets netminder Marc Denis over the summer because he had the youngster on his roster in Hershey when he used to run the Colorado Avalanche's AHL farm team.

Feaster gave up popular winger Fred Modin to get Denis and it has met with lukewarm success.

"One year there I used six goalies," said Demers. "(Nikolai) Khabibulin really settled things down when he came in, but then he left (after the 2004 Cup).

The only possible way out for Feaster is to hound San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson for goalie Evgeny Nabokov, in a one-for-one trade for Martin St. Louis, who could play on Joe Thornton's line.

For Brodeur's eyes only

Washington Capitals fans wore sunglasses and chanted, "Marty, Marty" and "Fear the Visor" at New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur on Friday. Fans wanted to razz the all-star netminder after he allegedly convinced the NHL to stop Alex Ovechkin from wearing a mirrored shield so he could see his eyes.

Brodeur, who's on the league's competition committee, said he wasn't behind the move, but he heard the catcalls in Washington.

"I might as well run with it. They've made up their signs and bought the sunglasses," said Brodeur, who got the last laugh in a 4-1 victory.

This 'n' that

Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara not only doesn't drink beer like most hockey players, but he doesn't like the taste of coffee either. He might be the only NHLer who can say that. Most players consume gallons of coffee before games ... Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is going to be the Eastern Conference all-star starting goalie, but he has looked tired lately, playing too many games in a row.
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