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04-08-2007, 12:22 AM
Pens' Crosby wraps up scoring title

By Karen Price
Sunday, April 8, 2007

Center Sidney Crosby will become the third Penguins player to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's scoring leader, having clinched the title on Saturday even before he played his last game of the regular season against the New York Rangers.

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, who was seven points behind Crosby as the second-leading scorer in the league with 111 points, got a goal and two assists for 114 points in the Sharks' regular-season finale yesterday afternoon.

The next two closest players were the Tampa Bay Lightning's Vincent Lecavalier with 107 points and the Ottawa Senators' Dany Heatley with 105 points.

Crosby, 19, finished with 120 points after notching two assists last night.

He will become the youngest player to win the NHL scoring title.

The only other player to lead the league in points as a teenager in the modern era was Wayne Gretzky, who briefly held the lead near the end of the 1979-80 season and early in 1980-81.

"It would mean a lot, but that's not why you play," Crosby said yesterday morning of the possibility of winning the scoring title and the league MVP award. "You don't play for those things. You play to win championships. Honestly, I think that's always on my mind, just winning hockey games. If those accolades and accomplishments come with it, then it's an accomplishment. But those are just direct reflections of how you do and how your team does."

It is the 12th time in Penguins history and the 12th time in the past 19 seasons that a Penguins player has won the scoring title. Mario Lemieux won it six times (1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997), and Jaromir Jagr won it five times (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001).


04-08-2007, 09:07 AM
Congratulations Sid!!! :cheers: A hard earned and well deserved trophy!

04-08-2007, 09:17 AM
Wow, this article coming from the same writer who stated "if they (Penguins) leave, life will go on and go on quite well.". I wonder if Bob would say the same if the Irates were to leave? Bob, stick to pimping the Irates or did those two straight defeats leave you at a loss for words?

Smizik: This year the lovefest continues
Sunday, April 08, 2007

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The final game of the home season historically has been a lovefest between the Penguins and their fans. In good times and bad, these dedicated customers have made this early April trip to Mellon Arena to cheer their heroes, to let them know their efforts were appreciated -- even when they did nothing more than produce a last-place finish -- and most of all to say goodbye.

This year the script was just a bit different.

The fans came out every bit as strong -- 17,132, the team's 30th sellout in 41 games -- and every bit as appreciative. They wildly applauded the pregame award ceremony, and didn't mind the event was a bit of a cop-out. Of course, Sidney Crosby, who by game's end was the official NHL scoring champion, was the MVP in a vote of his teammates. But the rookie of the year was co-awarded to Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, even though Malkin had twice as many points as Staal. The hockey writers' Good-Guy Award was not presented to an individual, as is usually the case, but the entire team.

The fans didn't mind a bit. More Penguins to cheer.

There was an added bonus this year. Because the opponent last night was the New York Rangers, the fans had the opportunity to participate in the mandatory pregame and every-time-he-touched-the-puck booing of former Penguin Jaromir Jagr, the second-greatest player in franchise history.

But that wasn't what was different. This is what was different. This time the fans didn't have to say goodbye. This time there's more hockey -- maybe lots more.

It has been six years since the Penguins' season extended beyond 82 games. April 2001 was the previous time the fans came to the final home game and didn't have to say goodbye. The Penguins finished third in the Atlantic Division that season and greatly surprised by winning two playoffs series before losing in the conference final to New Jersey.

It has been a long drought and the return to the postseason has been somewhat unexpected. The true believers hoped the Penguins might sneak in as maybe the seventh or eighth seed in the conference. Others thought that was too optimistic for so young a team.

The Penguins fooled everyone -- even the true believers. After a mediocre start, they kept getting better and better: 8-2-2 in January, 9-3-1 in February and 12-3-2. The intense March schedule, that was expected to be their undoing, served to prepare them for the playoffs.

The Penguins will open the playoffs later this week against the Ottawa Senators. It was the prospect of that matchup that added a touch of drama last night to what became a 2-1 Penguins' victory.

Although the Penguins had long since locked up their playoff slot, they had a chance to gain home-ice advantage if they beat the Rangers and the Senators lost to the Boston Bruins. The game in Boston started about 35 minutes earlier and the Bruins caused a stir in Pittsburgh by scoring twice in the first six minutes. Unfortunately, for the Penguins, the Senators quickly answered both of those scores and went on to a 6-3 win that clinched home ice for them.

Both teams finished with 105 points, but the Senators earned home ice in the best-of-seven series with the advantage in the first tiebreaker, most wins, 48-47.

No one should take that to mean they have any other significant advantage. The teams have met three times in the past month -- twice in Ottawa -- and the Penguins won every time.

The impressive win against a playoff-bound Rangers team, which has been playing extremely well, served to send the Penguins off to the postseason on a positive note.

And the Penguins sent their loyal fans home on an equally positive note. Although many headed for the exits after the Penguins held off a furious Rangers attempt to tie the score in the closing minutes, about one-third of the crowd remained. About 10 minutes after the conclusion of the game, the Penguins returned to the ice to participate in what could be called one of the great promotions in professional sports: "Shirts Off Their Back."

Twenty six fans were brought down to the ice and each one received a jersey worn by a Penguin that night. As the player's number was called, he pulled off his shirt, skated to center ice, shook hands with the winner and autographed the shirt.

It was a grand gesture and one that thrilled the fans even if the exchange was not a particularly even one.

The Penguins gave 26 fans their shirts; More than 17,000 fans in attendance and many, many more gave the Penguins their hearts.


04-08-2007, 03:34 PM
Crosby gets Penguins into playoffs - much faster than Lemieux did

Associated Press
Apr 8, 2007, 2:19 PM EDT

PITTSBURGH (AP) -Mario Lemieux didn't win a scoring title until his fourth NHL season and, despite his enormous talent and on-ice presence, couldn't lead the Pittsburgh Penguins into the playoffs until his fifth season.

Sidney Crosby did both in his second season. At age 19.

The NHL hasn't seen anything like this since a 19-year-old Wayne Gretzky's first NHL season with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80 - a teenager being greatly responsible for carrying his team into the postseason.

Crosby did exactly that with his 120-point season, one that left him six points ahead of San Jose's Joe Thornton and secured his first Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader. There aren't many in the NHL predicting it will be his last.

"It's a nice accomplishment, and I didn't come into this season expecting it," Crosby said after setting up both Pittsburgh goals in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night. "I tried to have the best season possible, and I was lucky enough to get it."

Crosby is the first teenager to win the Ross. Gretzky equaled Marcel Dionne of the Los Angeles Kings with 137 points in 1979-80, but Dionne won the trophy because he had more goals.

Still, the most impressive statistic of Crosby's sophomore season wasn't his point total, which represented an 18-point increase from his rookie year, but this one: the Penguins' 47-24-11 record.

The Penguins' 105 points were the second most in franchise history, and bettered the point totals of their Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992. The 47-point improvement from a season ago, when they had a 22-46-14 record, and was the fourth best in NHL history. Their 47 victories were two more than they had in their previous two seasons combined.

"The goal (when the season started) was just to get into the playoffs and, all of a sudden, we were fighting for home ice the whole second half," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "So I don't think anyone can say anything less than it was a great season."

Now, the question going into the Penguins' first playoff series in six years, or since Lemieux's comeback season in 2000-01, is how could good it will be. The fifth-seeded Penguins open the playoffs later this week in Ottawa, a team they've never met in the postseason.

"You work all season to get to this point," Crosby said. "Now it's time to get going. Last year, I can remember having the season over and being excited for the playoffs to start, but watching them wasn't fun."

Crosby's first playoffs are likely to be better than Gretzky's - his Oilers, the 16th- and last-seeded team in 1980, were eliminated by Philadelphia in three games. Lemieux took Pittsburgh into the second round in 1988-89, when he had his memorable eight-point game against the Flyers, but the Penguins were beaten in Game 7 at home by Philadelphia backup goalie Ken Wregget.

Eight Penguins players have playoff experience, but most were in supporting roles with other teams - only 40-year-old Gary Roberts, 39-year-old Mark Recchi and 33-year-old Sergei Gonchar have played prominent roles in the postseason.

To Recchi, the only current Penguins player who has appeared in a playoff game with them, that's hardly a disadvantage.

"I won the Stanley Cup in my first playoffs," Recchi said, referring to the 1990-91 Penguins. "It's all about how you approach it. We've got guys who have unbelievable attitudes who have been in situations where they're been under pressure, whether it's in juniors or the world juniors."

The Penguins' top three goal scorers are under 21 - Crosby (36 goals), 20-year-old Evgeni Malkin (33 goals) and 18-year-old Jordan Staal (29 goals) - and that's believed to be an NHL playoff first.

But to Roberts, who turns 41 next month, the Penguins' young legs and fresh attitudes are a positive going into the playoffs, not a negative. He thinks they were tested last month when, playing a grueling 17 games in 31 days, the Penguins went 12-3-2 - the best March in franchise history.

"We've got a lot of guys who don't have playoff experience, but that's probably a good thing," Roberts said. "They're loose, but this team's a very mature group. They're committed and they're disciplined, they work daily on the system and on trying to be better. That's nice to see for an old guy like me."


04-08-2007, 08:42 PM
Crosby had more talent on the team to work with than Mario did when he came into the NHL. Mario pretty well had junk.

04-08-2007, 09:10 PM
NBC has confirmed Game 2 will be played Saturday at 3.

04-08-2007, 10:06 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators Playoff Schedule:

Wednesday in Ottawa at 7:00

Saturday in Ottawa at 3:00

Sunday in Pittsburgh at 6:00

Tuesday in Pittsburgh at 7:00

*Thursday in Ottawa at 7:00

*Sunday in Pittsburgh at 1:00

*Tuesday in Ottawa at 7:00

* - If necessary

04-08-2007, 11:02 PM
Penguins' playoff run began last year
Monday, April 09, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins' clubhouse Saturday night was relatively subdued. It was difficult to tell by watching the players that the regular season had just ended with a 2-1 win against the New York Rangers.

"We can't jump around," Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "That was a good season, but what really matters is the playoffs."

The playoffs.

They had become nearly a foreign concept for the Penguins, who haven't been in the postseason for six years.

Now they're looking at a first-round series that starts in Ottawa, most likely Wednesday night.

Being included in the chase for the Stanley Cup this spring -- and knowing for the past several days that they had clinched a playoff spot and were playing for positioning and a possible home-ice advantage -- made this a stunningly different final week of the regular season for the Penguins.

"It's so much different," Fleury said. "More fun, too."

As the 2005-06 season wound down, players knew they would not be in the playoffs. Although the Penguins picked things up down the stretch, collecting eight of their 22 wins after the Olympic break, the bleakness of the season wore on them.

"Especially the last 10 games," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "You can keep up a good attitude for a while, but it's tough to finish up a season without much to play for.

"We were just trying to finish up the season, play with some pride. It's tough to show up at the rink and know that you're probably not going to have a great chance to win. You have all the hope in the world, but at the same time, you realize your chances probably aren't so good."

The Penguins finished second to last in the NHL standings with 58 points last year.

With the final game came an emptiness. Players plotted out their offseason plans, traded their hockey sticks for golf clubs, said goodbye and dispersed.

"Last year it was, 'What day are you going to leave and what flight are you going to pick up?' " Scuderi said.

While a few players were heading to play in world championships or minor-league playoffs, most were facing a long layoff.

"When you think you're going to have five months off, that seems so long," winger Michel Ouellet said.

"You always want to play in the playoffs."

It didn't help that the Penguins were constantly reminded of their lackluster season.

"We had a long summer to work out," Fleury said. "People kept asking what happened, what's going on?

"But it's a great change this year for the team."

A change that began not long after last season ended. The Penguins fired Craig Patrick as general manager and hired Ray Shero, who replaced many longtime staff members, re-signed veteran Mark Recchi, drafted forward Jordan Staal and traded for defenseman Mark Eaton.

"Everything about this year has been different all season long," Ouellet said. "They made big changes."

So did the team, which improved by 47 points -- an 81 percent increase -- and earned the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference after finishing 15th a year ago.

That made the end of the regular season feel a ton different, even if the players didn't outwardly show that.

"It's certainly something that we're really looking forward to, the playoffs," Scuderi said. "This year, it's great. The guys are upbeat.

"Certainly the attitude is a lot different. We're very grateful for that."

The bulk of the roster is the same as last season. In hindsight, perhaps the experience of finishing so far off the pace but playing better down the stretch helped the Penguins get where they are this week.

"I thought that was one of the biggest positives going into this year, was that we played well [after the Olympic break]," Scuderi said.

"We set the tone for something we wanted to accomplish, which was working hard every night and giving ourselves a chance to win."

That could be why the Penguins weren't whooping it up or slapping backs after the last game of this regular season.

This could be just the continuation of a plan that was set in motion by a team that got tired of losing last season.

"Last year it was over right away after the last game," Fleury said. "We knew we wanted to do better this season.

"Now we're there, and we get to play more hockey."


04-08-2007, 11:03 PM
Ottawa flops are plentiful in the spring
Monday, April 09, 2007

By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It is neither fair nor accurate to suggest that Ottawa flops in the Stanley Cup playoffs every spring.

Occasionally, the Senators simply lose to a superior team.

Just not very often.

Ottawa, which will face the Penguins in Round 1 of the 2007 playoffs, has been one of the NHL's most consistent winners in the regular season -- the Senators have reached the postseason for the 10th consecutive year -- but one of its most reliable disappointments in April and May.

Sometimes, it's because the Senators' goaltending stumbles. Like when Patrick Lalime unraveled in Game 7 of Round 1 against Toronto in 2004, giving up two short-side goals to Joe Nieuwendyk before being pulled.

Sometimes, it's that the opponent's goalie seems invincible. Witness the way Curtis Joseph of the Maple Leafs shut out the Senators -- who averaged 3.34 goals per game in the regular season -- twice in Toronto's opening-round sweep in 2001.

And sometimes, it's pretty much about 20 guys underachieving. Exhibit A came in 2002, when Ottawa overcame a 3-2 advantage against Toronto to pull out a seven-game defeat in the second round.

That the Senators' most wretched playoff memories have come against the rival Maple Leafs -- imagine the Steelers imploding against, say, Baltimore in the NFL playoffs each winter -- compounds the misery of their fans, although Ottawa players insist they don't dwell on bygone failures, regardless of who they came against.

"It's obviously something that gets talked about, and there's only one way to silence that," defenseman Chris Phillips said. "But it's not something that's on your mind when you're stepping onto the ice."

Perhaps, but not because people outside the locker room will hesitate to remind the Senators of their rich history of playoff swoons, of the come-from-ahead collapses that have been the franchise's legacy, the first time the Senators sputter this spring.

Of course, Ottawa personnel point out, quite correctly, that it isn't necessarily reasonable to hold the Senators accountable for what their predecessors did. Or were unable to do.

"We're a different team now," center Jason Spezza said. "If you look at the past they had five or six years ago, some of the failures against the Leafs and stuff, not many of us were involved in that.

"It's fun for the media and everyone to look at it and say we're underachievers and stuff, but we're a bunch of younger guys coming up. ... We want to get rid of that stigma, but we're not going to lose sleep over it."

Trouble is, while some of the names on the back of the sweater change every year, the crest on the front does not. And neither do most of the partisans whose psychological well-being hinges on how the Senators perform in the spring.

"Everybody's waiting for us to falter a little bit, then get on us and see how we respond," Spezza said.

If anything, though, expectations for the Senators might be tempered a bit this year. After having the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2005-06, they didn't lock up home-ice advantage for the first round against the Penguins until Saturday night.

"Maybe there isn't as much pressure as in the past because we haven't finished on top of the league or conference," center Mike Fisher said. "But at the same time, we know we have a great team and we've been playing very well lately."

Captain Daniel Alfredsson, who broke into the NHL with Ottawa in 1995, echoed that sentiment and didn't flinch when asked if the Senators are capable of winning the Stanley Cup.

"We've got as good a chance as anybody," he said. "We know we can play well defensively, we can score goals, our special teams are good. It's just a matter of putting it all together."

It always is and, for the past nine years, the Senators haven't been able to do it. In 2006, after eliminating Tampa Bay in five games in the first round, the Senators dropped four one-goal decisions -- three in overtime -- to Buffalo.

"Last year, we were supposed to sweep everyone in every series and win easily," Spezza said. "We didn't do that. It's not that easy. It's tough to win."

It's worth the effort, though. Do it once, and all the losses that came before will melt from memory.

"Once you win, you're considered winners," Spezza said. "We feel like this year, we have a good opportunity. And we want to make the most of it."


04-08-2007, 11:04 PM
Penguins Notebook: Players working on some magic for playoffs
Monday, April 09, 2007

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

You could find all sorts of factors to weigh in the Penguins' first-round series against Ottawa, reasons one team or the other should win.

Some might say the youthful Penguins will need to find a bit of magic in their locker room.

Well, they have.

When defenseman Ryan Whitney missed his only game of the season Tuesday because of a groin injury, he was killing time when he wandered into a magic store on the South Side called the Cuckoo's Nest.

Whitney had seen a former teammate, Matt Murley, do some tricks and thought he was pretty good. After visiting the shop, Whitney began doing the familiar disappearing ball trick for teammates.

"I guess it could be a hobby if you do become good at it," Whitney said.

Wingers Ryan Malone and Colby Armstrong thought it was interesting and also visited the store.

"It's sleight of hand stuff," Malone said. "Mine's a pen that I stick through a dollar bill. I'm just messing around with it. I'm learning. It's just something to entertain the guys."

Malone wound up hiring one of the store employees to entertain guests at his wedding reception this summer.

Whitney said Malone is the magic ringleader. Malone said it's Whitney. Both said Armstrong is involved.

Despite his teammates' assertion, Armstrong claims to have nothing to do with the magic.

"But I like watching it," he said. "The ball trick's pretty cool. I think it's just something they're having fun with, something to fight boredom."

Perhaps some of them will learn a new trick for each round that the Penguins advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"Yeah, that will be the rule," Whitney said.

Senators work it out

Although the Senators struggled through the early weeks of the regular season -- they were 7-11 in mid-November -- they believe the adversity they experienced then might have worked to their benefit in the long term.

"We learned how to win games, and not just on our talent," defenseman Chris Phillips said. "We had to work for it. We had to grind some out.

"Learning that has helped us out during this stretch, playing against some desperate teams trying to make the playoffs and, hopefully, strengthened our team going into the playoffs."

Inexperience not a worry

Penguins coach Michel Therrien is among those who isn't worried about his young team's inexperience in the NHL playoffs.

Of the 25 players on the active roster, 15 have never played in an NHL playoff game.

Therrien pointed out that many of them have played in the postseason in the minor leagues, junior hockey or both.

"So they have been in pressure situations," he said.

"You know, we didn't have much experience [in general] this season, and we've done pretty well."

Slap shots

The Penguins resume practicing today. ... After closing the regular season with 13 consecutive sellouts, the Penguins finished with 30. This is the first time outside of the Mario Lemieux era that the team has had that many sellouts. There were 34 sellouts in 1988-89 and again in 1989-90, 32 in 1992-93 and 30 in 1992-93.


04-08-2007, 11:07 PM
Special teams takes on added importance for Pens

By Karen Price
Monday, April 9, 2007

Most of the players on the Penguins' roster are about to get their first taste of the NHL playoffs.

When their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series opens this week against the Ottawa Senators, they'll quickly learn that everything is amplified in the postseason -- from the level of play, to the pressure and scrutiny, to specific aspects of the game that, while important in the regular season, become critical during the playoffs.

And that includes special teams.

"Yeah, I would say (special teams are even more important in the playoffs)," said defenseman Mark Eaton, who was with the Nashville Predators when they were eliminated in the first round by the San Jose Sharks last season, 4-1. "Especially as defensive-oriented as playoffs are, if you're able to get one or two power-play goals, it makes it that much harder for a team to come back. In the playoffs, you don't see the two-, three-, four-goal comebacks you see in the regular season. So, winning the special teams battle is key for playoff success."

The Senators had the best power play in the league last season at 25 percent, but after ousting the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, they were sent home after five games against the Buffalo Sabres in the second round.

But solid special teams no doubt served the Carolina Hurricanes well in their run to Stanley Cup title.

The Hurricanes had the second-best power play at 24 percent and were 30.9 percent at home with 25 power-play goals in 14 home playoff games. Their opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Edmonton Oilers, was ranked seventh at 17 percent.

In 2003-04, the Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning had the best power play at 21 percent, although penalty killing was ranked 10th overall at 85.5 percent.

On the penalty kill, the Hurricanes last season were ranked sixth at 85.4 percent in the playoffs, while the Oilers were fourth at 86.1 percent.

The Anaheim Ducks, who lost to the Oilers in the Western Conference Finals, had the best penalty kill at 88.5 percent.

"If you get a hot power play, you can actually win a series with it," said Penguins winger Mark Recchi, who won the Cup with Carolina last season. "Penalty killing is obviously a big thing, too. You have to kill your penalties. That can be a momentum changer if you do have a big kill or you get out there and get a goal.

"When (the Penguins) played Minnesota (North Stars) in 1991, they were 35 percent on the power play, and they basically got to the Finals on their power play. Our guys did a wonderful job of shutting down their guys, and we ended up winning the series.

"Last year in Carolina, we had a good power play, and it carried us a long way. But we also had good penalty killing. When you do that, it makes it a lot easier, for sure."

The Penguins finished the regular season with the fifth-best power play in the league at 20.3 percent and the 17th-ranked penalty kill at 82.1 percent. The Senators finished with the No. 15-ranked power play at 17.9 percent and the eighth-best penalty kill at 84.5 percent.

In four games against one another this season, the Penguins were 6 for 25 on the power play and 23 for 29 on the penalty kill.

"In every tight game, special teams are important," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "What I like about our team is our special teams, over course of season, got better.

"The penalty kill is doing a fantastic job right now. They understand their roles better, position themselves better, block shots. They deserve a lot of credit. And the power play, we have some skill out there, and they're capable to give us some important goals.

"There's no doubt special teams are a big part of it. But everything's important in the playoffs."


04-08-2007, 11:08 PM
Penguins GM: 'We cannot be satisfied just to be in the playoffs'

By Rob Rossi
Monday, April 9, 2007

Ray Shero has not been on the job a full year, but already the Penguins' general manager has helped his franchise take flight following a half-decade of futility.

His first two moves were to draft rookie superstar Jordan Staal and sign unheralded defenseman Mark Eaton. Those moves pointed to better days ahead, as the Penguins have reached the playoffs for the first time since the 2000-01 season, thanks largely to a lethal combination of unrivaled young skilled skaters and invaluable know-their-role players. With the quest for the Stanley Cup just days away, Shero spoke with the Tribune-Review about the surprising year that was, how it came about and where it might go.

Question: How difficult has moving this franchise forward proven?

Answer: It was hard. I had not seen Pittsburgh play that much. The obvious young guys, everybody talked about. But I've always wanted to build a team around more than just one or two players. I really wanted some identity on the third and fourth lines. I really wanted to add some character. To me, there were role players -- Mark Eaton, Jarkko Ruutu, Ronald Petrovicky and Dominic Moore, who did a good job for us until he was traded -- that I felt comfortable with. I had seen Ruutu for a long time, seen Eaton for a long time. I knew those guys and their kind of character. I knew they would help with the fabric of the team and give us some identity, which we needed.

Q: Teams that make long playoff runs tend to possess players such as those you added during an offseason that followed the Penguins finishing with the league's second lowest point total. How much did the contributions of players such as Eaton and Ruutu help mold these Penguins into Cup contenders?

A: Those players were added so that we could become a competitive team, not a playoff team. The immediate goal I set was for this team to become competitive. Then, it became about improving every month, which we've done. We have some tremendous talent on this team, but I really like the contributions of these so-called role players. That's really what you need to become a good team.

Q: Given that the core of this team consists of young talents such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Staal, Ryan Whitney and Marc-Andre Fleury, who figure to be in Pittsburgh for a while, will your toughest annual task be finding the role players that you've said are needed to complete a Cup contender?

A: Absolutely. If you look at all the good teams, they have an identity that comes from the role players. Those great Islanders and Oilers team had role players that meshed perfectly with their stars. Look at Carolina last season with Kevyn Adams, Craig Adams and Aaron Ward. Those guys all played big roles for the Hurricanes in their Cup run last season. Those guys make a difference in your team because usually they are good on special teams and they are great character guys. We have those kinds of guys here -- the unsung heroes that come up with a key faceoff win, a key goal or a key blocked shot. Eventually, the top guys get shut down and you need somebody to step up. We've had a lot of contributions from Sidney, Evgeni and Jordan this year, but we've also had the guys like Eaton, blocking shots, and Ruutu, scoring timely goals, step up.

Q: Some of the players you inherited from the previous management staff seemed to have fit nicely into a role this season, too. Did you expect such a transition to go so smoothly?

A: I consider guys like (Josef) Melichar and Rob (Scuderi) to be role players to a certain extent. Those guys have to be defended a bit. Scuderi has been a really good penalty-killer and he has a great stick. Melichar jumped up when Eaton got hurt, played against top players and we didn't really lose anything. ... We've got the star guys, which is obvious. But you don't win like we have this season with just stars.

Q: You did not have a lot of time to evaluate what this team needed. How comfortable did you feel with the squad you had assembled coming out of training camp?

A: Well, (former general manager) Craig (Patrick) did a great job. He drafted some players here that were a foundation. I certainly cannot say that 90-plus points were a mandate coming in. It's been a pleasant surprise. But at the same time, we added to what was here and for the most part it has worked well. Our team is unique. It has made things work on and off the ice. It's been a good group. It's been a winning environment. The actual winning helps, but I sense that the expectation around here is to win.

Q: Is the expectation to win in the playoffs realistic given the relative inexperience of this team? There seems to be some thought around the hockey circles that anything this team accomplishes this season is gravy given the great prospect for future success?

A: A lot of people have been surprised as to where this team is. Look, I've been through this before with Ottawa. ... It's taken (the Senators) a long time, and they've had some hiccups. They've had great teams, but they still haven't won the Stanley Cup. Ottawa thought it was on its way, but the truth is that you never know what kind of opportunities you are going to get to win a Stanley Cup. We cannot be satisfied just to be in the playoffs. We have take advantage of this opportunity. I sense that this team really believes it is good, even if it took a while for that to sink in.

Q: When did you start to think this team was good?

A: It was (Nov. 25, 2006), when we lost with about two seconds left to the Rangers. I was really impressed with what we did because, look, the Rangers are a really good team. We lost that game, but I thought, "We're a really good team." We had gone from 58 points the previous year to playing right with the Rangers. It was impressive. That's when I knew we might have something.

Q: What, ultimately, might you have with this team?

A: We have made a lot of strides. We cannot be satisfied, though. Go back to 1985 and Mike Keenan's Philadelphia Flyers. They want to the Finals that year with a group of young kids in Rick Tocchet and Murray Craven. They had surprised everybody, really came out of nowhere. Anyway, that team was down in the first-round series, and Keenan said he could sense his players felt that making the playoffs was good enough. So he went into the locker room and tore them a new one, that they were wasting an opportunity. He told them that next year might not be their year.

Q: Seemingly, there is a lesson to be learned from those Flyers, then?

A: The lesson there is that you can't be satisfied and that you have to move forward all the time. No matter how good we think we're going to be in the future, we have to believe we are good enough to win the Cup now because we really don't know if we'll get another chance like this.


04-08-2007, 11:09 PM
Shero's March of the Penguins

By The Tribune-Review
Monday, April 9, 2007

May 25, 2006: Ray Shero is named general manager of the Penguins. CEO Ken Sawyer had announced upon firing Craig Patrick in April that the new GM would inherit Michel Therrien as coach. Shero initially had said he didn't want to be "saddled" with an incumbent coach, but relented and accepted the position under Sawyer's terms.
"I think my original interview with Ken was a few weeks before I was hired," Shero says. "Between then and when I was offered the position, I spent time reviewing the organization. I know some criteria I look for in a coach, and Michel brings that. He can teach. He can discipline. He can inspire. And those are three critical elements."

Therrien goes on to lead the Penguins to their first postseason appearance since 2000-01 and earns consideration as a candidate for Coach of the Year honors in his first full season behind the Pens' bench.

July 3, 2006: Shero hires Andre Savard to serve as a Penguins assistant coach, along with incumbent Mike Yeo, but not before making sure Therrien is comfortable with Savard coming aboard. Savard, a former player, assistant coach, head coach, assistant GM and GM in the NHL, had been the Canadiens' GM in January of 2003, when Therrien was fired as the coach in Montreal. Savard is assigned to work with a defense that was responsible for allowing an NHL-worst 316 goals in 2005-06. He also brings a presence as a veteran NHL assistant that had been missing since Lorne Molleken departed following the 2003-04 season, Eddie Olczyk's first as coach.

Sept. 5, 2006: Shero announces the signing of former No. 1 pick Evgeni Malkin, the second overall pick in 2004. Malkin's arrival on the eve of rookie training camp brings to an end a saga replete with international intrigue, one that included Malkin bolting his Russian Super League team during training camp in Helsinki, Finland, resurfacing in California and his Russian Super League team, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, threatening lawsuits over Malkin's departure sans compensation.

"We commend Evgeni on his courage for coming to Pittsburgh to pursue his lifelong dream of playing in the National Hockey League," Shero says.

Malkin goes on to become the world class complement to Sidney Crosby the Penguins had been envisioning and inspires reminders of Mario Lemieux while entrenching himself as a top candidate for Rookie of the Year honors.

Sept. 26, 2006: The Penguins begin a three-day "boot camp" at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., one that includes Army training and drilling under the supervision of 1st Sgt. J.B. Spisso, a Greensburg native.

"It's hard work, but it's not going to be easy getting out of last place," Shero says. "There are life lessons these guys are going to learn here this week."

The Penguins go on to become a team as identifiable for its chemistry and camaraderie as its combustibility.

Oct. 3, 2006: Shero plucks forward Chris Thorburn off waivers from Buffalo two days before the regular-season opener Oct. 5 against Philadelphia. Thorburn's acquisition adheres to the offseason philosophy of roster-tweaking that previously brought the likes of Mark Eaton, Jarkko Ruutu, Nils Ekman, Ronald Petrovicky, Dominic Moore and Karl Stewart into the organization. The plan, according to Shero, is to complement young, talented players with grit and make the team much less comfortable for opponents to play against. Although not all of Shero's acquisitions go on to play prominent roles or even last the season with the team, the Penguins evolve as hoped and brandish elements of feisty and physical play that had been lacking.

Oct. 30, 2006: Shero announces that 18-year-old Jordan Staal, the second overall pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, will not be sent back to his junior team. By allowing Staal to play more than 10 NHL games, the Penguins allow the three-year clock to start toward Staal's becoming a restricted free agent (the Pens will subsequently allow Staal to play more than 40 games, beginning the seven-year countdown toward his becoming an unrestricted free agent). Defenseman Kris Letang, 19, is returned to his junior team, meaning he can't rejoin the Pens until Val d'Or has completed its 2006-07 season. But Staal, who has established himself as a penalty-killing specialist and a productive NHL forward at even strength sooner than anticipated, stays.

"Jordan has earned a spot on our roster and deserves to play at the NHL level," Shero says. "We all knew his skill level when we drafted him. His work ethic, maturity and consistent effort have allowed him to make what is normally a difficult transition for a teenager."

Staal goes on to become one of the Pens' top goal-scorers while establishing himself as a top candidate for Rookie of the Year honors.

Nov. 22, 2006: Shero recalls forward Erik Christensen from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, just prior to removing veteran forwards John LeClair and Andre Roy from the NHL roster. Christensen, a third-round pick in 2002, scores seven goals in his first 16 games, surpassing the six career goals he had scored previously. Christensen goes on to become one of the NHL's most feared shootout specialists, converting eight of his first 14 attempts, and the Penguins win nine of 10 shootouts after dropping five of their first six.

Dec. 4, 2006: Shero summons defenseman Alain Nasreddine from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Nasreddine, 31, appears in the next 30 games and achieves a plus/minus rating of even or better in 27 of them while establishing himself as a blueline regular. His resume previously had consisted of 24 NHL games, including six with the Pens in 2005-06

Jan. 3, 2007: Shero assesses the Penguins as a dangerous team in the wake of a 3-0 victory over defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina that improves the Pens to 17-15-6.

"I think we've established ourselves as a team that can win on any given night," he says.

Asked if he might be inclined to bolster the club for a sooner-than-anticipated playoff run, Shero reiterates his season-long commitment to allowing his core of young players to grow together.

"I have no interest in taking a young player out of a spot to add an older player for the short term," he says.

The Pens go 1-2-1 in their next four games, falling to 18-17-7, then unleash a 14-0-2 surge that improves their record to 32-17-9 with the NHL trade deadline less than 10 days away.

Jan. 26-27, 2007: Shero incorporates a concept he gleaned from his days as the assistant GM in Nashville and brings along the fathers of Penguins players, trainers and equipment personnel on a road trip to Dallas and Phoenix. The Pens celebrate the first such father-son weekend in franchise history by beating the Stars, 4-3 in a shootout, and the Coyotes, 7-2, improving their road record to 10-8-4 and matching their total of road victories from 2005-06.

Feb. 27, 2007: A series of deadline-day deals nets the Penguins forward Gary Roberts (for minor-league defenseman Noah Welch), forward Georges Laraque (for minor-league winger Daniel Carcillo and a third-round pick) and defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski (for a fourth-round pick), and costs them Dominic Moore (dealt to Minnesota for a third-round pick). Shero accomplishes his goal of adding depth on the blueline and grit and toughness up front without detracting significantly from the current NHL roster. He doesn't sweat not landing a big-name defenseman.

"I really think that with our defense, we're one of the better teams in the league record-wise and it's time to give these guys some credit," Shero says.

The Pens lose that night at home to New Jersey, 1-0, but go 8-1-1 in their next 10 games.


Fire Haley
04-09-2007, 01:34 PM
I dunno about the rest of you...but I'm already nervous...I need some Valium

Here's my new wallpaper...for luck!


04-09-2007, 06:07 PM
Excellent Penguins round table tonight on Sports Beat. They had Potash, Errey and Steigy. Errey stressed goaltending and ST's in order to get past the Sens. Stan stated they will be holding these round tables throughout the playoffs.

It's sad though, it was only a half hour long tonight because FSN felt the need to show the 3-0 Cards win over the Irates (again). Amazing, one team is in the playoffs and the only feel good story in Pittsburgh sports this year and the other team can't even reach .500. Makes sense.

Can we at least wait until Penguin season is over until we start re-showing Irate games? Or is the legitimate chance of the Irates being out of contention by the time Penguin season is over the reason why they feel the need to show a 3-0 defeat twice in one day? FSN Pittsburgh and the likes of Bob Smizik have all Summer to sugarcoat and pimp the Irates. Put more focus on the more deserving franchise.

BTW, there are two posts/articles on this page which were already posted.

04-09-2007, 11:06 PM
Penguins Notebook: Crosby's scoring title real feat for teenager

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On Dec. 13, Penguins center Sidney Crosby had a goal and five assists in an 8-4 victory against visiting Philadelphia. The career-high six-point night lifted the second-year NHL player to the top of the scoring race, and he never relinquished the lead.

With 120 points, Crosby clinched the Art Ross Trophy that goes to the league's leading scorer. At 19 years, 8 months, he becomes not only the youngest to lead the NHL in scoring but also the first teenager to win a scoring title in major pro sports history.

"I never expected it," Crosby said yesterday after practice. "Last year I thought I had a pretty good year. It wasn't something I put my mind on a whole lot, but then when I moved on top [against Philadelphia], I kind of thought then that maybe there is a chance, but I never expected it.

"It's nice. It's forgotten now -- for now, anyway. It's a nice accomplishment, but I'm just happy to get into the playoffs now."

In the NBA, the Chicago Stags' Max Zaslofsky was 22 when he won his league's scoring title in 1947-48. Michael Jordan was 24 when he won his first NBA scoring title in 1986-87, and Kobe Bryant was 27 when he won it in 2005-06.

In Major League Baseball, Detroit's Al Kaline was 20 when he won the American League batting title in 1955.

In the NFL, Indianapolis' Edgerrin James was 21 when he led the league in rushing in 1999.

Rewarding journey

Although the Penguins had been shut out of the postseason since 2001 and getting there this spring is rewarding for everyone in the organization, it's extra rewarding for rookie forward Evgeni Malkin.

His arduous journey to the NHL last summer included sneaking away from his Russian team when it went to Helsinki, Finland, to train, turning up in Los Angeles, finally getting to Pittsburgh to sign a contract and having a lawsuit hanging over him for much of the season.

"I enjoyed playing," Malkin, who led all rookies and was 18th overall in the NHL with 85 points, said through interpreter and Penguins employee George Birman.

"It's a long season. I'm kind of tired, but we're going to do our best to win the Stanley Cup. I'm glad I was here after the way it started last summer."

Malkin is the front-runner to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year, but he only has Ottawa in his sights.

"If I win, great. I will celebrate, but I'm not thinking right now about the rookie of the year," he said. "I'm thinking about the next game, the playoffs."

A big edge?

The Senators are in the playoffs for the 10th consecutive spring; the Penguins have qualified for the first time since 2001.

Factor in the youth of many of the Penguins' core players, and the Senators have a decided edge in postseason experience, which right winger Dany Heatley figures should work to their advantage. Maybe.

"If you look at history, that would make sense," he said. "On the other hand, they're a young team that has nothing to lose, that has never been in this situation before. I don't think you can rely on experience at all. You have to play them for what they are."

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson expressed a similar sentiment.

"I don't think it will make a huge difference," he said. "They know how to play the game. They can bring a lot of enthusiasm, and sometimes that can carry a long way."

Stat facts

A few other statistical items from the Penguins' regular season:

-- They finished 41-21-10 against Eastern Conference teams, including 20-9-3 against fellow Atlantic Division clubs.

-- They were eighth in home games with 57 points, tied for ninth in road games with 48 points.

-- Their power play ranked fifth at 20.3 percent, their penalty killing 17th at 82.1 percent.

-- Crosby's Art Ross Trophy gives the Penguins 12 (Mario Lemieux won it six times, Jaromir Jagr five), the most of any team since that award was started in 1948.

-- Sergei Gonchar finished second among NHL defensemen by tying his career high with 67 points. Ryan Whitney tied for sixth among defensemen with 59 points.

-- Jordan Staal led the league with seven short-handed goals and with a shooting percent of 22.1. He was sixth among rookies with 42 points, tied for second behind Malkin (33) among rookies with 29 goals.

-- Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury tied for third with 40 wins.


04-09-2007, 11:08 PM
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Therrien comfortable with playoff experience

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

How's this for playoff experience as a coach in the NHL?

In 2002, Michel Therrien coached his hometown Montreal Canadiens to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. They beat the favored Boston Bruins in the first round and were leading Carolina, two games to one, in the second round.

In Game 4, Montreal was ahead, 3-0, in the third period when Therrien loudly and animatedly argued a penalty called against his team. Referee Kerry Fraser slapped Therrien with an unsportsmanlike penalty.

The Hurricanes scored on the ensuing 5-on-3, then completed the comeback in that game and in the series to oust the Canadiens.

To this day -- a day before he heads back to the NHL playoffs, this time with the Penguins against Ottawa -- Therrien defends his action.

"I still don't believe it was a penalty, no," Therrien said, following that up with a hearty laugh.

Therrien, 43, might be stubborn about that call, but he and those around him insist he has grown as a coach as he guides a young Penguins squad into the postseason for the first time since 2001.

"You know what you're going to face as a coach," Therrien said. "The experience you get as a coach always helps you -- I hope it helps me.

"When I coached Montreal, you learn a lot coaching over there. I learned a lot. It made me a better coach, I believe. And I'm going to be a better coach in five years because I'm going to learn. The moment I stop learning is the moment I'm probably going to have to stop coaching."

With the Penguins making a 47-point improvement over last season, the fourth-biggest turnaround in NHL history, Therrien is a candidate for the Jack Adams award as coach of the year.

Although he hasn't been to the NHL playoffs since 2002 with the Canadiens and is 6-6 in the postseason, Therrien has had success at lower levels throughout his career.

In four seasons in junior hockey, he reached the final of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League three times and won the Memorial Cup with Granby in 1996. After Montreal, he guided the Penguins' top minor-league club, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, to the American Hockey League final round in 2004-05.

"Anytime you coach in the playoffs at any level, it's a good experience," said winger Michel Ouellet, one of several young Penguins who played for Therrien at Wilkes-Barre. "He knows how to win and how to get the best out of the players. In the playoffs, he didn't really change the way he was coaching. Sometimes he cut his bench to make sure he has his best players on the ice to get some goals or something like that, which you need to do.

"We're going to be ready for every game against Ottawa, I'm sure."

After yesterday's hour-plus practice at Mellon Arena, Therrien held a team meeting to begin to break down Ottawa and prepare the Penguins for the matchups they will face.

The players, especially those who have played for him for several seasons going back to Wilkes-Barre, say Therrien has matured as a coach without fundamentally changing.

"It's just like with a player. You grow in coaching just like you grow as a player. You learn," said center Maxime Talbot. "I can see that change in him. You learn from what you do and what your players do."

Therrien won't argue that point.

"I've been to the playoffs," he said. "I know what to expect. I know about the pressure. I know how to prepare a team. The focus will be there.

"It's about having confidence in your group, and I have confidence in that group."

Perhaps not the sort of undying confidence that would compel Therrien to defend them to the point of taking a penalty or otherwise hurting the team.

"I'm sure he's going to think about that if something like that happens again," Ouellet said of the penalty Therrien took in the Montreal-Carolina playoff game.

Penguins assistant Andre Savard was Therrien's general manager with the Canadiens then.

He's not holding that penalty against Therrien.

"I was upstairs. I was watching. That was Fraser," Savard said. "I think Fraser was tough on us that game. We had the game under control, and Fraser had a short fuse."

Besides, Savard said, that was one moment in a career that is better defined through a bigger picture. Such as Therrien's record of 60-53-18 with the Penguins since he was promoted from Wilkes-Barre in December 2005.

"He's a demanding coach, but a fair coach," Savard said. "Obviously, everybody matures with experience. And every league is different, so you always have to adjust, and I think he's done that well."


04-09-2007, 11:09 PM
Playoff failures don't faze Murray

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Bryan Murray of Ottawa ranks sixth on the NHL's all-time list of regular-season games coached (1,221) and fifth in regular-season victories (613), but his personal playoff record is as spotty as that of the team he oversees now.

The Senators' opening-round series against the Penguins marks the 12th time Murray has been behind the bench in the NHL playoffs, but he has yet to make it to the third round.

His teams were eliminated in the first round six times, and in the second the other five.

Murray said he doesn't fret about his postseason record, that it's mostly a reflection of the quality of the clubs he has coached.

"In my career, I've had maybe two occasions where I had a team that had a chance to really go any great distance," he said. "When I was in Detroit, we weren't ready. It took them three years to win it [after he left the Red Wings].

"Like a lot of coaches, you get your chance with bottom-feeders. This is the organization that for the first time, when I came here, was regarded as a real good organization, with a chance [to succeed in the postseason].

"I take it as that this is my second kick at it, with a good team. All a coach can do is be organized, provide opportunity and hope that things happen in a positive way at playoff time."

This is Murray's second season in Ottawa. The Senators lost to Buffalo in the second round in 2006.


04-09-2007, 11:10 PM
Emery's play getting rave reviews this season

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

If the pet python doesn't get you -- figuratively, of course -- the tattoos will.

If his willingness to trade punches with opponents -- even large, ill-humored ones -- doesn't grab your attention, the gaudy earring should.

You know how goaltenders have a reputation for being a bit, well, different?

Don't blame Ray Emery of Ottawa for that, because he's nothing like most of his colleagues in the NHL.

Or almost anyone else, for that matter.

That hasn't changed recently, and perhaps it never will. What has changed in the past six months or so is Emery's role with the Senators -- he has become their undisputed No. 1 goalie -- and the popular perception of him as a guy worthy of attention mostly for his appearance and personal quirks.

"All that stuff that kind of got him noticed last year -- the tattoos, the [dyed] blond hair and that -- disappeared," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "And he just became a good goaltender and a good guy."

Emery beat out Martin Gerber, signed as a free agent last summer, to become Ottawa's go-to goalie after Dominik Hasek went to Detroit as a free agent, and finished the regular season with a 33-16-6 record, 2.47 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

Enough of the Penguins, who will meet Ottawa in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series tomorrow, faced Emery when he was with the Senators' American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton to know that what he did in 2006-07 is not a fluke.

"He's very agile, for how big he is," forward Erik Christensen said of Emery, who is 6 feet 2, 202 pounds. "Usually any big goaltender, you want to make them move as much as possible, and he's a guy who likes to go down.

"Most of the time, you're just trying to pick the high parts of the net because when he goes down in that butterfly, unless you get him to open up and put it through his five hole, you have to shoot high."

This will be Emery's second playoff run with Ottawa, because an injury to Hasek a year ago forced him to step in against Tampa Bay and Buffalo.

"Last year, I just kind of got a taste of things," he said. "I was just excited to play and realize there was a tiny margin between succeeding or packing your stuff up.

"This year, I feel like I'm more suited to playing in the playoffs, more confident. I know how to react to different situations. I'm just a better goalie, all around. I'm exciting to kind of get the opportunity to redeem myself from last year."

What he doesn't have to do is polish his image, at least among his teammates. For while Emery's idiosyncrasies tend to get most of the attention outside the Ottawa locker room, his teammates view him as a fairly normal guy.


"Everybody sees him with the hair dyes and the pet python and things that people on the inside don't see," center Jason Spezza said.

"We don't see the same guy that you see. But we don't mind that you see the crazy one who loves to fight, the Ray Emery with the mystique around him."

Spezza acknowledged that Emery isn't a standard-issue player -- "If you've met a normal goalie, let me know who it is," he said -- but pointed out that most observers have an incomplete picture of him.

"He doesn't want to let too many people into his world, I think," he said. "He's a little more private."

Although the Senators once put Emery through an anger-management course, he still plays with an aggressive edge. And likes it that way.

"I tend to play good if I'm [angry]," he said. " As long as it doesn't get me in trouble, I don't have a problem with it."

Sometimes, Emery's emotions are funneled into his fists, like when he pummeled fellow goalie Martin Biron, then of Buffalo, Feb. 22 and followed that up with a bout against Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters.

That doesn't necessarily mean Emery will be tossing aside his blocker to trade punches with, say, Georges Laraque sometime in the next two weeks. He seems more interested in building on his experiences last spring.

"We lost kind of a close series at the end, one I thought I could have done better in," Emery said. "I'm excited to get a chance to play one of those series again, where goaltending definitely can make a difference."


04-09-2007, 11:14 PM
Senators coach uses fighting words with Pens

By Rob Rossi
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

If the opening-round Stanley Cup playoff series between the Penguins and Senators turns into a war of words, history will show that Ottawa coach Bryan Murray fired the first salvo on Monday.

"However we're treated, we'll treat the other team," Murray told the Ottawa Sun. "If they give us 10:30 (a.m.) ice times, we'll give them 10:30 (a.m.) ice times. If they run our goaltender, we'll look into that area of the game as well.

"That's the way I have always tried to operate: 'You do something to us, and I'm going to make sure my team does the same thing.' We're not going to take a back seat to anybody."

The Penguins have come to know well Murray's penchant for speaking his mind. During a regular-season game between the teams, Murray yelled at Sidney Crosby. Murray also was involved in a heated exchange with Penguins coach Michel Therrien.

In losing three of four games to the Penguins during the regular season, Ottawa proved willing to take costly penalties. Pittsburgh was 6 for 25 on the power play against the Senators this season.


04-09-2007, 11:16 PM
Five reasons why the Pens can win; five why they can't

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Five reasons they can win it

1. Wide-open field. There are several very good teams out there, none dominant. Every team has a weakness. Buffalo has the second-worst home penalty kill in the NHL, for example, and Ottawa has that tortuous playoff history to contend with.

2. Dynamic young talent. The field being as it is, it's nice to have the best player in the world. Expect Sidney Crosby to find a level he hasn't reached. No team can match the Penguins' combination of young legs and high-end talent in the likes of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Whitney and Jordan Staal.

3. Heart. It's not going to be easy to drive a stake through this team, which is among the best in winning percentage when trailing after the first or second period. Those young legs help in comeback situations, and no player in the league has a bigger heart than veteran winger Gary Roberts.

4. Systematic approach. The Penguins, as they displayed in a recent victory over the Atlanta Thrashers, are capable of shutting teams down and closing out games. Going into the final weekend, they hadn't lost in regulation all year when leading after two periods.

5. Role players. No matter how coach Michel Therrien configures things, the Penguins will have third and fourth lines that are not only tough but also capable of chipping in on the scoresheet. Any team that makes a run needs a Maxime Talbot or Jarkko Ruutu to provide some offense.

Five reasons they can't win it

1. Too young. Half the roster has never experienced a playoff game, including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who's only 22. Of course, Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was the same age last year, and he won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.

2. Little punch on the wings. So far, the team's lack of a dynamic goal scorer on the wing hasn't been exposed. If that is to continue, Mark Recchi will need to snap out of his late-season slump. Therrien must decide whether to split Malkin and Crosby or play them together.

3. Inconsistent penalty kill. The Penguins were great at home for most of the year, terrible on the road. They'll need to find a happy medium. One big key: Mark Eaton must regain his early season form.

4. Questionable defense. The bottom portion of the defense corps -- guys such as Josef Melichar, Rob Scuderi and Alain Nasreddine -- will be targeted and must respond. Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney need to be stars, and Brooks Orpik needs to play a solid physical game.

5. Faceoffs. Don't laugh. Consider the game eight days ago in Toronto, when a lost faceoff in overtime led directly to the Maple Leafs' winning goal. The Penguins have been the worst faceoff team in the NHL all season and do not have a go-to guy.


04-09-2007, 11:18 PM
Playoff pressure? Burden rests on Senators, not Pens

By Karen Price
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pressure? What pressure?

All season, Penguins coach Michel Therrien has talked about his players' ability to remain pleasantly oblivious to outside pressure, even as their record got better and the attention greater.

That hasn't changed now that the Penguins are in the playoffs for the first time since 2001, Therrien said Monday.

If any team is under pressure, Therrien said, it's the Ottawa Senators.

The Penguins and the Senators open a first-round, best-of-7 series in Ottawa.

"It's going to be great, it's going to be fun, and we're fortunate to be part of (the playoffs) and deserve to be part of this," Therrien said. "But at the same time, we don't have the extra pressure because it's the playoffs. I don't feel my players feel any extra pressure. We're playing against a team that has a lot of pressure. Ottawa's a team that has pressure to win the Stanley Cup. We're probably going to be there in a few years, dealing with that type of pressure, but right now our team's having fun being together. We don't feel any pressure."

The Senators have been to the playoffs every season since 1996-97 and have lost in the first round five times, the second round three times and the third round once. They have not made it to the Stanley Cup Finals since joining the league in 1992-93.

They've entered as division winners four times and in 2002-03 won the Presidents' Trophy for the most points in the regular season with 113. That time, the Senators lost to the New Jersey Devils in seven games in the conference finals.

"They've been a good team for years," Therrien said. "They've been able to put together a lot of good hockey teams, and again this year they had a really good season -- a slow start, but they really picked up their game. For unknown reasons, they've had bad luck when they went to the playoffs. When you go through to the playoffs, you need breaks. They go to the playoffs with huge expectations, from the media, from fans, from coaches and ownership, and for unknown reasons, they've had bad luck so far."

This is the Penguins' first trip to the playoffs since 2001, when they lost to the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals. None of the players on the roster played for that team, although defenseman Josef Melichar was in Wilkes-Barre at the time (he played 18 games in the NHL that year but none in the playoffs).

"Everyone can feel that buzz in there air," center Erik Christensen said. "In practice, you could see (yesterday) in our battle drills everyone was going a little harder and a little grittier. Everyone's just trying to make sure they're ready and in that playoff frame of mind."


04-09-2007, 11:18 PM
Pens' Crosby poised for playoff success

By Rob Rossi
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A voice inside his head was telling him he could do it -- perhaps because Sidney Crosby had done it before.

Every morning since September, Crosby had chugged a miniature plastic bottle filled with fluids designed to replenish lost electrolytes and nutrients. With a single mighty gulp, the bottle would drain.

Then, the competition could begin.

Crosby lofts the bottle toward a trash can in the Penguins' equipment room. Most of the time, he had drained the shot on one take. On this day, hours before the team is to face the Maple Leafs in Toronto, he misses.

Crosby slumps against the bench.

One observer, standing behind the makeshift hoop, notices the empty bottle on the floor behind the trash can. Nearly making the mistake of his career, the observer attempts to grab the rebound and slam it home.

"No, no! I'll get it," Crosby says.

The soon-to-be youngest scoring champion in NHL history lifts himself from a comfortable, seated position, still wearing his skates, and walks toward the empty bottle. He retrieves it and makes his way back to the bench so he can take a second shot.

He does not need a third attempt - though he would have take a dozen, if necessary.

"That is Sid," Penguins right wing Colby Armstrong said. "He never gives up on anything. Shooting that bottle into the trash or a shift -- he just doesn't give up.

"He is the last guy you have to worry about in the playoffs."

Instead, when the Penguins open the playoffs Wednesday, the Ottawa Senators will have to worry about Crosby. Already the league's dominant force at 19, Crosby is not concerned with the pressure that comes with his first NHL postseason.

"Everyone has their own way of dealing with things, like pressure," Crosby said. "And for me, it's just to become more focused. Basically, I'll just eat, sleep and play hockey. That's the way it has to be."

Precedent suggests Crosby will treat the playoffs as he has his two NHL regular seasons and quickly establish himself as a dominant force.

As a 16-year-old in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he was just shy of a two points-per-game average during the 2004 playoffs. The next year, he recorded 31 points over 13 games and was the leading postseason scorer en route to helping Rimouski reach the championship round.

"A lot of guys become more focused during the playoffs," Crosby said. "For me, it's exciting, it's fun. You work all season to get to this point. It's not something to feel pressure about. You try to take advantage of the opportunity and see where it takes you."

Opportunity knocked for a 19-year-old Jaromir Jagr during his second Stanley Cup playoff game in 1991.

Having lost their playoff opener at home, the Penguins were in danger of dropping a second consecutive game against the New Jersey Devils when, in overtime, Jagr scored his first playoff goal.

"I didn't feel any pressure," Jagr said. "I was just playing hockey. I never thought, 'What if we lose ...'

"I would carry the puck when everybody was yelling at me to dump it in. I didn't care. When I got older, I started to understand why everybody was screaming: The game is on the line, and the smart play is to dump it in. But when I was young, I didn't think that way."

Jagr parted ways with the Penguins following the 2001 playoffs as the second-leading postseason scorer in franchise history with 147 points over 140 games. The Penguins made the playoffs in each of his 11 seasons in Pittsburgh.

He said Crosby, given ample playoff opportunities, is a likely candidate to match his postseason point total. In fact, Jagr expects Crosby to start the chase in furious fashion.

"It's an advantage for him to be so young," Jagr said. "At that age, you just don't feel any pressure. He will be fine."

Nothing like it

Taking an opposing viewpoint is Tampa Bay Lightning star Vincent Lecavalier. He warned that the chase for Lord Stanley's chalice is different -- especially the first time through.

Lecavalier is one of the few NHL skaters who can understand the atmosphere Crosby will experience over the next few weeks.

Like Crosby in 2005, Lecavalier was the first player chosen in the 1998 entry draft. Where Crosby was dubbed "The Next One," Lecavalier was tagged by Tampa's owner as the would-be "Michael Jordan of hockey" -- and that was before he took a regular-season shift.

"When you are first overall, you automatically have pressure thrust upon you," Lecavalier said.

In Tampa, four seasons passed without a playoff appearance before Lecavalier helped lead the Lightning to the playoffs in 2002. There, when the puck dropped, Lecavalier noticed an immediate difference.

"It was exciting, unbelievably exciting ... but the first couple of shifts I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off," Lecavalier said.

Turned out that Lecavalier's postseason experience in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League tournaments could not compare to the chase for the Cup.

"The Stanley Cup playoffs are different. They just are," Lecavalier said. "You try to put pressure on yourself -- the good pressure, to do well and concentrate on the task at hand. But you've got those butterflies. It takes a few games for them to go away."

Those pesky butterflies can nearly doom a team, especially an inexperienced one led by a young superstar. During his first Stanley Cup dance, Lecavalier's Lightning dropped the first two games against Washington before rallying to win the series in six.

"There's some bad pressure, no doubt," Lecavalier said. "But Sid has had pressure all his life. He's handled it pretty well. It is so impressive what he has done. The playoffs will just be another stage for him."

Practice makes perfect

That voice inside his head is back. It will not go away. A home game against the Buffalo Sabres is hours away, and all that stands between Crosby and salvation is an easy shot.

Left arm extended, he gently lofts another empty bottle into the air. His eyes widen as it floats on-target towards the trash can.

Swish, swoosh, whatever -- the sound does not matter. All that does is the result: Perfection.

"When you're competitive," Crosby said, "and in situations like the playoffs, you want it that much more ..."

Crosby pauses and flashes the facial expression of somebody who knows something the rest of the world is about to find out.

"I take a lot of pride in everything I do," he said. "In the playoffs, I'm not going to change anything."


04-09-2007, 11:22 PM
History shows Cup race wide open

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One thing is certain: A new team will skate with the Stanley Cup this year.

And it could be a club from the East no one saw coming.

For the first time in the modern NHL era, neither finalist from the previous season made it back to the playoffs. So with champion Carolina and Edmonton out of the picture, the 16 remaining teams begin their pursuit of the crown.

The Southeast Division provided the winners on each side of the seasonlong lockout -- Tampa Bay in 2004 and Carolina last year. The Lightning and Hurricanes earned top seeds in the Eastern Conference, then beat upstarts from the bottom of the West. Sixth-seeded Calgary got to Game 7 against Tampa Bay, and No. 8 Edmonton repeated the feat versus the Hurricanes.

If another bottom-rung club makes a run, don't be surprised if it's a team closer to the Atlantic Ocean than the Pacific.

"Every team is dangerous," said 19-year-old Sidney Crosby, from the fifth-seeded Penguins. "You always look at teams that finish off strong. It's all about timing."

You can see that on Long Island. The New York Islanders appeared out of the playoff race following noncompetitive losses just over a week ago to powerhouses Buffalo and Ottawa in the aftermath of goalie Rick DiPietro's concussion.

Yet, they bounced back with four straight wins and squeezed into the playoffs ahead of Toronto and Montreal on the final day of the season by beating New Jersey in a shootout. Now they have their sights set on top-seeded Buffalo, which earned 113 points and had the NHL's best record for the first time in team history.

"It's all about opportunity in this game," said Islanders forward Ryan Smyth, acquired from Edmonton at the trade deadline. "We didn't quit, and obviously I was an added extra piece to the puzzle to help the organization get in. That's all you can ask for as a player is to get in."

The Rangers earned the No. 6 seed on the strength of a 13-3-4 surge and joined the Penguins, the Islanders and second-seeded New Jersey as Atlantic Division teams to qualify. Only Philadelphia, which posted the league's worst record, was left out of the postseason party.

Out West, Detroit again is at the top. The Central Division-winning Red Wings tied the Sabres in points, a season after capturing the Presidents' Trophy, but failed to repeat because they fell three wins short of the Sabres' NHL-high 53.

Now they hope to avoid another first-round flameout against Calgary after being knocked out quickly last year by No. 8 Edmonton. The Flames wrapped up the final berth in the West on the second-to-last night of the season, when Colorado's comeback ended in a loss to Nashville.

If the Red Wings slip up, Pacific champion Anaheim will be ready to step up. No longer Mighty, the Ducks are in the playoffs for the first time. Their first test is against seventh-seeded Minnesota Wild, and star goalie Niklas Backstrom.

"It's a toss up," said defenseman Chris Pronger, in his first season with Anaheim. "Any team can get hot, much like we did last year in Edmonton as the eighth seed."

The Wild hope Backstrom will lead them deep into the postseason. In his first NHL season, Backstrom posted the lowest goals-against average (1.97) and highest save percentage (.929).

No team will be relying on inexperienced players more than the Penguins, who will be facing the Ottawa Senators, who often come in with tons of potential but have yet to reach the Stanley Cup finals.

Crosby posted an NHL-best 120 points -- including 84 assists -- and became the youngest scoring champion in NHL history four months before his 20th birthday.

If he and rookie Evgeni Malkin can supply the scoring punch, and young goalie Marc-Andre Fleury can stand tall in the nets, the Penguins could be the latest team to spoil the Senators' postseason plans.

"You can't make up for the experience unless you've actually gone through it," Crosby said. "I've been through situations before, not in the NHL, but in juniors and world juniors that I can use to prepare me. I don't have sense of being nervous, but a sense of being focused."


04-10-2007, 12:48 PM
Dapper Dan dinner pushed back due to Penguins playoff
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

By Ray Fittipaldo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The 71st annual Dapper Dan Dinner and Sports Auction, originally scheduled for this coming Sunday, has been rescheduled for Sunday, April 22. The date was changed so the event's sponsors and ticket buyers could attend Game 3 of the Penguins' opening-round National Hockey League playoff series against the Ottawa Senators.

The dinner and auction will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the schedule of events remains the same. A ****tail reception and silent auction will take place in the foyer outside the Spirit of Pittsburgh Ballroom at 5 p.m. Ballroom doors open at 5:30, and the introduction of featured athletes, coaches and other sports celebrities begins at 6.

"Many loyal supporters of the Dapper Dan Dinner have told us that they also have tickets to Sunday's game at Mellon Arena, and we want those people to be able to join in the incredible excitement that's surrounding the Penguins as they enter the NHL playoffs," said Dave Beihoff, the president of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and a member of the executive committee for Dapper Dan Charities.

The honorees at the dinner will be Steelers owner Dan Rooney (Lifetime Achievement Award), Penguins center Sidney Crosby (Sportsman of the Year), and Detroit Shock forward and McKeesport native Swin Cash (Sportswoman of the Year). Proceeds from the events will benefit the many youth sports programs of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania.

Tickets purchased for the event remain valid. Anyone with questions about tickets that have already been purchased and those interested in purchasing tickets for the new date should call the Dapper Dan hotline at 412-263-3850.


04-10-2007, 04:41 PM
Downtown rally for Penguins tomorrow; more playoff tickets on sale
Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County leaders will host a Downtown rally for the Penguins tomorrow as the team heads into the National Hockey League playoffs.

The rally will begin at noon in the courtyard of the courthouse on Grant Street.

Free food and music will be provided.

The Penguins play at 7 p.m. tomorrow in Ottawa.

In addition, a limited number of individual game tickets for home GAME C of the Stanley Cup playoffs conference quarterfinals will go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m., the Penguins announced. Approximately 2,000 tickets will be available.

Game C would be the third home playoff game played at Mellon Arena (if a sixth game is necessary in the Penguins-Ottawa series), and it would be at 1 p.m., Sunday, April 22.

Tickets for Games A and B sold out in 13 minutes, so fans are encouraged to purchase online Wednesday morning at ticketmaster.com.

Tickets also are available for purchase at the Mellon Arena Gate One box office, all TicketMaster locations, or by calling TicketMaster at 412-323-1919.


04-10-2007, 11:06 PM
Cherry, Hull picking Senators

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Legendary Canadian broadcaster Don Cherry and NHL great Brett Hull, both of whom will be involved in coverage of the Stanley Cup playoffs, picked the Ottawa Senators to defeat the Penguins in their first-round matchup.

"The Penguins are awfully young," said Cherry, who works for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "I think everything depends on [Marc-Andre] Fleury.

"Ottawa has the goal scorers. They've got good defense."

Cherry, who will make his American television debut as part of the NBC team in the Stanley Cup final, acknowledged that the Senators lack of success in the playoffs could come back to haunt them.

"If Pittsburgh ever gets off to a good start, the idea will get in their minds that they're going to choke again. And, let's face it, they've done it an awful lot."

Hull, who works for NBC, didn't necessarily see the Penguins lack of experience as a detriment.

"You can look at it two ways: They're inexperienced and they don't know how to handle it. Or ignorance is bliss and they may not know what they're into and just go out and play.

"But I agree with Don. I think Ottawa has a little too much for them. But watch out in the near future. The Penguins are going to be too much."


04-10-2007, 11:08 PM
Penguins ready to begin their chase for the Stanley Cup

'You get judged ... by what you do in the playoffs'

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By Robert Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

One year after finishing last in the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference, and barely one month removed from the announcement of funding for a new arena that will keep them in Pittsburgh, the Penguins are back in the chase for the Stanley Cup.

"You get judged as a man and as an athlete by what you do in the playoffs," said winger Georges Laraque. "We're going to have to play harder than we've ever done before."

In their first playoff appearance since 2001, the Penguins share some novelty with their fans. Fifteen of the 25 roster players will be in their first playoffs, and so will a new generation of fans.

The new season starts at 7 o'clock tonight in Ottawa with a different brand of hockey -- more emphasis on defense and goaltending, more hitting, more intensity, the unforgiving spotlight of professional hockey's biggest stage and less open ice for skating. The players understand the significance of being in the postseason, but they're not shy about seizing the moment, either.

"We're young. We don't know any better," said Erik Christensen, one of the newcomers to the NHL playoff experience. "I don't think there will be any adjustment period. We just have to take the intensity up a couple of notches and make sure we play our game."

The quest for the Stanley Cup is a campaign of attrition, a test of heart and will, of endurance and toughness. The shootout that settles tie games during the regular season goes into storage. This is a time of quadruple overtimes.

They may be young, but the Penguins aren't going to sneak up on anybody, not when they have the NHL's leading scorer in Sidney Crosby, the youngest player ever to win the scoring title.

Ottawa isn't in much of a position to take them lightly, either. Both teams finished with 105 points, but the Senators got home-ice advantage in the best-of-seven opening series by having more victories. In four meetings this season, the Penguins won three, including both games played in Ottawa. The two teams have already been in postseason mode, with their coaches exchanging verbal barbs and the players exchanging snarls and hits in their last game.

The Penguins collection of young talent rates some historical consideration.

Although Mr. Crosby and rookies Evgeni (Geno) Malkin and Jordan Staal haven't reached legal drinking age, they produced more than 25 goals apiece. The last time three members of the same team scored so prodigiously before their 21st birthdays came in 1981-82. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Paul Coffey -- three Hall of Famers -- did it with the Edmonton Oilers.

The lack of experience doesn't worry 40-year-old Gary Roberts, who had a year of NHL experience under his belt before Crosby was born.

"They're young and loose with lots of energy. This team is a very mature group. They're committed. They're disciplined," he said. "That's nice for an old guy like me, to see these young guys come to the rink and have so much fun every day. It keeps me young."

The Penguins point out that they have played some big games in the second half of the season when they battled teams fighting for their playoff lives or elbowing their way up to a better seeding.

"Experience is important. You can't take away from that. For us, we have to get it sometime. There's no better time than now," Mr. Crosby said. "We're just going to use our energy. We're going to be excited. Maybe we don't have experience in the NHL playoffs, but we have guys who have won world juniors, Memorial Cups, played in the minor league playoffs, been in pressure situations before."

For Colby Armstrong, the playoffs represent an opportunity.

"It's a dream come true. I've been watching the Stanley Cup playoffs since I was little. To be part of it now is unbelievable. It's what you play for. Everyone's ready to go," he said.

The only way to find out what the playoffs are all about is to go through them.

"You have to be baptized," said Eddie Johnston, the team's special adviser for hockey operations.

The hockey, he noted, is different in tone and style from the games played during the regular season.

"Games are going to be won in the corners. In front of the net. On special teams," he said. "No clean-cut goals. They're all dirty goals."

Mr. Laraque, who was on the Edmonton team that came within a game of winning the Cup last season, also notes that the difference in winning and losing in the playoffs can be as fine as the edge of a skate blade.

"No more high-scoring games. Everything's played so tight," he said. "Everything is more physical. Everything is more intense."

Mark Recchi won the Cup with the Penguins in 1990-91 when he appeared in his first postseason, and his name is etched into the silver trophy as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes last season.

"You have to be focused for 60 minutes. It comes down to who's going to be willing to do the most things," he said.

The Penguins left Pittsburgh yesterday after their morning practice. A rally is scheduled today at noon at the City-County Building, Downtown, and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has issued a proclamation urging fans to wear black and gold in honor of the Penguins.


04-10-2007, 11:10 PM
Heatley-Spezza-Alfredsson unit capable of dominating a series

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Design a No. 1 line from scratch and it probably would look a lot like this.

On one wing, a classic power forward, a strong skater with soft hands and no qualms about operating in traffic.

On the other, an accomplished two-way forward, highly responsible in his own zone and as adept at converting scoring chances as he is at creating them.

And in the middle, an innovative playmaker who distributes the puck effortlessly -- and is every bit as dangerous when he decides to hold onto it.

Get your hands on those components -- and that's the tough part for any general manager or coach -- and you have the makings of a line with the potential to dominate.

Which Ottawa hopes its Dany Heatley-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson unit will do in its first-round playoff series against the Penguins, which opens tonight at Scotiabank Place.

"When they're clicking, it's a tough combination to beat in all aspects of the game," Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. "They really fit well together. It would be tough to find three guys on one team to put together to top that."

That was evident in the regular season when Heatley became the first player to score 50 goals in consecutive NHL seasons since Pavel Bure in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 and finished fourth in the league scoring race with 105 points.

Spezza and Alfredsson weren't far behind, putting up 87 points each to tie Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk for 15th place.

"If you look at the numbers, we're right there," Heatley said. "We've played well together for most of last season and maybe half of this season. It's fun playing with those two guys. It's our job to get things done."

Spezza, who has played two seasons and part of a third in Ottawa, and Heatley, who is wrapping up his second year with the Senators, are relative newcomers. Alfredsson, conversely, has been with the team since 1995, and is its captain.

And, in many ways, he has been its conscience and most important player, from coach Bryan Murray's perspective. The way he sees it, there is an unwavering link between the quality of Alfredsson's performance and the Senators' prospects for success.

"If he doesn't [play well], we won't win," Murray said. "It's real simple. He's one of our key guys and if he plays hard and well -- it doesn't necessarily have to translate all the time into points -- but if he plays the way he's played all year, we'll have a good chance, and he'll be one the of the reasons."

Alfredsson clearly understands that, which is he why he acknowledged that, "at times," he has been guilty of trying to do too much.

"In big games, he's tried to do a little more than he had to do with the puck," Murray said. "When he just plays the way he normally plays -- work real hard, get up and down the ice real well, take the shots that are there, try to not overhandle the puck too much -- I think he's a top-end player."

So are his linemates, and Heatley underscored how diversified his game can be while Spezza sat out 14 games earlier this season with a knee injury. With Spezza gone, Heatley carried the puck more often and established himself as an integral part of Ottawa's penalty-killing unit.

He's a bit less inclined to lug the puck now that Spezza is back but remains responsible and reliable in the defensive zone, which gives Murray the latitude to use him with confidence in almost any situation.

It is his ability to score, however, that should concern the Penguins most.

Heatley shrugged off a question about whether he can take over a series in much the same way he would knock aside an undersized defenseman -- "We'll see how it plays out," he said -- but he not only has the size and talent to do so, but also enters the playoff on a serious roll.

Heatley scored eight goals in his final eight games, getting at least one in seven of those, and chipped in five assists.

Despite that -- and the pedigrees and production of his linemates -- Heatley insisted that his unit does not have any special responsibility to generate offense.

"We're offensive guys and that's our job," he said. "But to win in the playoffs, you need scoring from everybody."

That's a valid point. Even when "everybody" includes one of the best lines in the NHL.


04-10-2007, 11:14 PM
Penguins Notebook: Therrien says all pressure rests squarely on the Senators

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This is the 10th season in a row Ottawa has made the playoffs, and often the Senators have had a good team expected to contend for a Stanley Cup.

Instead, Ottawa's stay in the playoffs since 1997 has been short: First-round loss, second-round loss, first-round loss in a sweep, first-round loss, first-round loss in a sweep, second-round loss, loss in the conference final, first-round loss, second-round loss.

The Penguins, in contrast, have not been in the playoffs since 2001 and exceeded at least some people's expectations by qualifying for the postseason.

The way Penguins coach Michel Therrien sees it, that puts all the pressure on the Senators in the teams' first-round matchup that begins tonight in Ottawa.

"We're fortunate to be part of this, and we deserve to be part of this because of our hard work, but at the same time we don't have that extra pressure because it's the playoffs," Therrien said. "I don't feel my players are feeling the extra pressure.

"We play against a team that will have a lot of pressure. They're always a team that has pressure to win the Stanley Cup. We're probably going to be there in a few years, to feel that kind of pressure, but right now our team has a lot of fun together. There's great chemistry."

Familiar face

Ottawa coach Bryan Murray spent six full seasons and parts of two others behind the Washington Capitals' bench, so he has faced the Penguins more than a few times in his career.

This playoff series will be a bit different than his days with the Capitals, because Murray now oversees a team with offensive firepower. His clubs in Washington got by mostly on team defense.

"We always tried to defend and keep the goals-against down to give yourself a chance," he said. "It's quite different.

"You have to score goals, there's no question. No matter how well you play defensively, [the Penguins] are going to create offense. They're going to score goals on you. Being able to match -- we hope -- their level certainly is important."

Good company to keep

Penguins rookie forward Jordan Staal is the 48th 18-year-old to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs, a group that includes prominent names such as Gordie Howe (1947), Steve Yzerman (1984), Eddie Olczyk (1985), Mike Modano (1989), Rod Brind'Amour (1989), Jarome Iginla (1996) and Joe Thornton (1998). The only two 18-year-olds who have been on Stanley Cup winning teams were Gaye Stewart with Toronto in 1942 and Larry Hillman with Detroit in '55.

Been there, done that

This will be Staal's first NHL playoff experience but not his first playoff experience in Ottawa.

His junior team, the Peterborough Petes, played the Ottawa 67s in the playoffs the past two seasons, losing two years ago and winning in six games in 2005-06.

"I always hated playing Ottawa. I'm not going to lie," Staal said. "It just seemed like every year they were one of our big rivalries."

Good attendance numbers

The Penguins were among 16 teams that drew 97 percent of capacity or better to their home games as the NHL set a record with a total attendance of 20,861,787 for an average crowd of 16,961.

The league's average attendance rose each month during the 2006-07 season: 16,537 in October, 16,538 in November, 16,850 in December, 17,075 in January, 17,146 in February, 17,331 in March and 17,749 in April.

No war of words

Therrien declined to respond to comments his Ottawa counterpart made Monday -- Murray, for example, said, "However, we're treated, we'll treat the other team" when it comes to issues like ice time for the visiting club -- but did offer a theory.

"They have a lot of pressure," Therrien said. "And they feel the pressure. ... We're not going to start to concentrate on Bryan Murray's comments.

"Maybe I should give him a call, to ask what time he wants the ice if it's a concern for him when he's going to be in Pittsburgh."

Playoff tickets on sale today

About 2,000 individual game tickets for the Penguins' third playoff home game will go on sale at 10 a.m. today. Individual game tickets for the first two games sold out in 13 minutes, so the suggested way to buy tickets today is online at www.ticketmaster.com, although they will be available at Mellon Arena Gate One box office, TicketMaster locations and by calling 412-323-1919.


04-10-2007, 11:17 PM
Teammates profess unwavering support for Marc-Andre Fleury

Believe Penguins' goaltender learned from his past failures in the hot glare of the postseason spotlight

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Two periods into the game, Marc-Andre Fleury realized he was closing in on a memory that could last a lifetime. ? Twenty minutes later, he knew for sure that it would. ? It was the gold-medal game at the 2004 world junior championships in Helsinki, Finland, and Fleury and his Canadian teammates had built a 3-1 lead against the United States by the second intermission. ? Early in the third period, however, Ryan Kesler scored to pull the United States within a goal. Shortly thereafter, Patrick O'Sullivan tied it. ? Finally, with a little more than five minutes remaining in regulation, Fleury cleared the puck away from in front of his crease, only to have it bounce off Canadian defenseman Braydon Coburn and into the net for what proved to be the tournament-winning goal. ? "I still think a little bit about it," Fleury said. "I still remember what happened. ... That was such a big game, an important game."

And, more significant, the first in a series of high-stakes games in which Fleury did not perform to expectations. Eventually, the conclusion was drawn that he was prone to struggling in pressure situations.

Fleury will be looking to shed that reputation when the Penguins face Ottawa in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, beginning at 7:08 p.m. today at Scotiabank Place.

His teammates insist they have unwavering faith in Fleury -- "I'm more confident with Marc than with [New Jersey's Martin] Brodeur behind us," said center Maxime Talbot, Fleury's teammate at the 2004 world juniors -- and believe the Senators series will give him an opportunity to establish himself as a clutch player.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien expects nothing less.

"He's raised his game when the challenge was there," Therrien said. "There's nothing wrong with facing adversity as long as you learn from it, and I think Marc really matured this year."

Falling fast

When Fleury came back from Helsinki, he made a cameo appearance with the Penguins, then returned to his team in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Cape Breton was a junior hockey power that winter, and Fleury went 8-1-1, with a 1.98 goals-against average, during the stretch drive.

But after the Screaming Eagles won their playoff opener against Chicoutimi, they dropped three consecutive one-goal games -- all with Fleury in goal -- and he was replaced by backup Martin Houle for Game 5, another defeat.

Fleury's postseason linescore: A 1-3 record, 3.10 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.

With Cape Breton's playoff run over so abruptly, Fleury was assigned to the Penguins' American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre -- his fourth team of the season -- to get some experience at that level.

Almost immediately upon his arrival, the Baby Penguins' coach -- Therrien -- started him in Game 2 of Wilkes-Barre's first-round series against Bridgeport.

Fleury stopped just 11 of 16 shots in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Sound Tigers and didn't make it into another game until called upon for mop-up duty in the Baby Penguins' season-ending loss to Milwaukee in Game 4 of the Calder Cup final.

By then, he had slipped to third on Wilkes-Barre's depth chart, behind Andy Chiodo and Sebastien Caron.

And his big-game reputation was falling even faster.

Building blocks

Fleury spent the 2004-05 season in Wilkes-Barre, where he was the go-to goalie, but when the playoffs arrived, he was used in just four games and both of his decisions were losses.

He was back in the AHL for last spring's playoffs, and that is when he began to rehabilitate his reputation.

The Baby Penguins were trailing a first-round series against Bridgeport, 3-2, when Fleury got the call to start Game 6. And won. Then got it again for Game 7. And won.

He wasn't single-handedly responsible for either victory but was the goalie of record in both games. And if the Baby Penguins had lost either, their season would have been over.

"I remember him being real strong," said Talbot, who spent most of last season in Wilkes-Barre. "He grew from that."

Suddenly, the guy people thought couldn't win the big one had. A couple of times.

"That was good to get two good games, crucial games," Fleury said. "That was good mentally."

But not necessary for his teammates to believe in him now, they say.

"I know he's going to be fine," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "But if [winning those games] is going to help his psyche, so be it."

Pressure situations

Tonight's game will be Fleury's debut in the crucible of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

At some point -- whether it's in the early seconds of Game 1 against the Senators or deep into some future series -- he figures to stumble, at least briefly. Most goalies do. Just like almost every other player immersed in the NHL postseason for the first time.

"Experience is not just given to you," forward Erik Christensen said. "You have to go through hard times and adversity. I'm sure we'll face some the next couple of weeks."

While Fleury allows that he expects to be nervous as the opening faceoff nears -- "Before the first game, there will be a bit more butterflies," he said -- he embraces the pressure that comes with his position.

"The focus is usually on the goalie a lot during the playoffs," he said. "You can either be a hero or be a zero."

Fleury's teammates can make his life a bit less stressful. "We have guys dedicated to this system, and it helps him because he doesn't have to make so many spectacular saves," Scuderi said. But there will be times when the outcome of a game, if not an entire series, hinges largely on his performance.

From all indications, that doesn't concern the Penguins.

"I'm more than confident with Marc, because he's been playing well all year, and I know his character," Talbot said. "He's really more mature than he was, and he's ready to play.

"You know what? I wouldn't want to have any other goalie in net for the playoffs."


04-10-2007, 11:19 PM
Penguins, coach earn passing grade on final exam

By Mike Prisuta
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Michel Therrien has taken to characterizing the Penguins as "a really tight family" and his players as "great kids" with "great chemistry."

"That's why it's fun," Therrien said.

A season ago, Therrien may have labeled the team he inherited on Dec. 15, 2005, a dysfunctional family. Or, based on the way they'd been playing, a crime family.

The Penguins have traveled that far on the way to Ottawa for the opening of the NHL playoffs.

By Jan. 10, 2006, Therrien was admittedly "miserable."

Following a 3-1 loss to Edmonton at Mellon Arena, he boiled over.

The memorable observations from his now-infamous postgame rant included:

? An appraisal of his defense: "I'm really starting to believe their goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league, and they're doing such a great job to be the worst defensive squad in the league."

? An assessment of his players' commitment: "They pretend to care, but I know they don't care."

? A proposed response from management: "What will they say if we take 50 percent of their salaries because they only play 50 percent of the time?"

Many of the same players Therrien lambasted then will play for him tonight against the Senators.

"I think we've pretty much grown together," defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

Orpik was out with a broken foot the night Therrien ripped into the Penguins but hasn't forgotten "The Rant" or its ramifications.

"I remember it pretty vividly," Orpik said. "I think it made CNN and a couple of other news channels that don't show any hockey."

The Penguins lost, 6-1, in Columbus the night after "The Rant" and five more games in succession.

They finally steadied themselves somewhat via an 8-9-2 finish to a 22-46-14 season.

This season, the Penguins fell to 18-17-7 after losing, 5-2, at Florida on Jan. 10, the one-year anniversary of Therrien's rant, then went 14-0-2 and never looked back.

"Everyone was frustrated last year," Orpik said. "When he took over, I think he wanted to change the attitude and change the level of professionalism. I don't think he did it gradually. He came in and kind of just slammed the door on everything. A lot of guys didn't think it was the best way for him to go about it last year, but he has his own way of doing things, and when it works it's tough to question it."

Players spent much of last year "walking on your tip-toes," Orpik said, "knowing if you slipped up a little bit you were either going to get called out or brought into the office to take a tongue-lashing."

This year, "it's a lot more enjoyable to come to the rink," Orpik said.

The relationship is still much more professional than paternal, but Therrien and his players have learned to coexist.

"There's a long list of coaches that expect a lot out of their players, and I think he falls onto that list, but he accepts your best," center Sidney Crosby said.

"As a player, if you care about what you do and your team, then you expect the same thing he expects. We've kind of gone by that the whole year, and it's made us better because he's gotten the best out of us."

Therrien credits the players and general manager Ray Shero for growing a chemistry that Therrien first noticed during last season's stretch run.

"He's our leader, and he has an approach that communication is really important," Therrien said of Shero. "It starts from there and certainly he's had a huge impact.

"The chemistry, that's a big part of our success. It's like a huge family, and not only with the players, but the supporting staff, the coaching, the management. I think it's important to be really tight, and this is what we have.

"We're a special group right now. We care about each other. Guys that wear the jersey, I know they're going to give everything they have."


04-10-2007, 11:20 PM
Pens' Fleury finding his way

By Mike Prisuta
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Marc-Andre Fleury has been known to apply athletic tape to a deodorant canister, spilling its contents all at once and thoroughly fouling the atmosphere in the locker room shower. He's also ambushed unsuspecting teammates with devices disguised as writing utensils that administer electric shocks.

"There are other pranks, and guys don't know (who is responsible), but I'm sure he's part of it," Penguins defenseman Alain Nasreddine said. "He just lays under the radar."

No more.

Fleury will be front and center tonight, when the Penguins open their postseason in Ottawa.

Goaltenders in the Stanley Cup playoffs either emerge or become exposed. There seemingly is no in-between. And there's definitely no hiding from the glare of the playoff spotlight or the weight of playoff pressure when you're standing in the crease.

"I'm very excited just to get started," Fleury said.

Others are anxious to see whether the NHL's first overall pick in 2003 rises to the occasion or succumbs to it.

After a breakthrough regular season, the Penguins' goaltender of the future appears poised to, at long last, begin making a playoff name for himself. But to do so, he must overcome a postseason/tournament history that's as star-crossed as it is brief.

His adventures in such situations date to the 2003-04 season, the year the Penguins traded up to secure Fleury's services, threw him into the net on opening night, and then ultimately decided they'd rather have him play elsewhere than pay his bonuses.

Representing his native Canada that January in the World Junior Championship, Fleury allowed a 3-1, third-period lead to evaporate in the Gold Medal game in a 4-3 loss to the United States. The winning goal was scored when Fleury played a puck off a teammate and into the net he was defending.

At season's end, Fleury and favored Cape Breton were bounced in the Screaming Eagles' opening round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League postseason. Fleury lost three of his four decisions in the five-game demise.

In Wilkes-Barre Scranton that same season, Fleury went 0-1 in two playoff appearances. That team went to the AHL final as backstop Andy Chiodo emerged as a folk hero in Wilkes-Barre.

In 2004-05, the NHL's lockout season, Fleury became the first Wilkes-Barre goaltender to win 20 games in a season (26-19-4), but once again ceded the playoff crease to Chiodo.

And last season, fresh from a 13-27-6 nightmare in the NHL, Fleury returned once again to Wilkes-Barre. This time, he won a Game 6 and Game 7, but could do no better than share the goaltending chores with Dany Sabourin (now Vancouver's backup) through two series.

Fleury remembers.

"I haven't had that many chances in the playoffs yet," he said.

His first chance was his best.

At the 2002-03 WJC, "I got a silver medal and the MVP, everything went well," Fleury said. "The second year (2003-04), everything went well until that one goal.

"It wasn't a bad tournament, just a bad goal."

His current teammates and coaches are counting on such newfound perspective to steady Fleury in the postseason.

They've repeatedly seen him elevate his game in overtimes and shootouts, and they attribute Fleury's development this season as much to a heightened grasp of professionalism as his never-questioned athleticism.

"It's like golf; if you have a bad shot, you can't take it with you to the next tee," said Pens assistant coach Mike Yeo, who worked in the same capacity when Fleury wasn't winning playoff games in Wilkes-Barre. "He's a guy who would sometimes let a goal get to him. I think he's learned how to handle that now.

"You've seen a lot of times this year where, maybe he's allowed a goal he wishes he had back or a game he wishes he had back, and he's always bounced back."

Yeo worked under current Penguins coach Michel Therrien in Wilkes-Barre when Therrien removed Fleury from the net in consecutive playoff years.

"It was a learning process, and we didn't want to hurt him too much," Therrien said. "We tried to pay attention with Marc-Andre to his development."

Added Yeo: "If you want to develop players successfully and develop winners, then you have to create a winning environment with the team, and they have to find a way to fit into that environment."

Fleury's way this season has been to play a much less spectacular and much more controlled game. He's not yet a top-10 goalie in terms of goals-against average or save percentage, but his 40 regular-season victories tied for third in the NHL behind Martin Brodeur (48) and Roberto Luongo (47).

Fleury's five shutouts tied for fifth.

"What I remember from Marc is he would make that unbelievable, incredible save that no other goalie can make, but sometimes he would get caught out of position a lot," said Nasreddine, a former teammate in Wilkes-Barre. "Nowadays, he'll make that big save if he has to, but he's in better position for every shot."

Pens center Maxime Talbot played against Fleury in the Quebec League, with him for Canada at that ill-fated World Junior Championship and roomed with him with the Penguins last season.

Like Nasreddine, Talbot maintains less is more as far as Fleury is concerned.

"At Cape Breton, he was good and he was supposed to be good," Talbot said. "I think he's become the goalie everyone expected him to be. Every save looks way easier for him now than they used to."

Fleury was 19 when the Penguins drafted him. As a 22-year-old, he leads the franchise back into the postseason following a five-year hiatus.

Therrien called Fleury out publicly as recently as a sloppy, 6-5 loss Feb. 19 to the New York Islanders. Still, he will be counting on Fleury against Ottawa and beyond.

"He's playing really well lately, and that's a great sign for him, a great sign for our hockey team," Therrien said. "I'm gonna tell you something, Fleury's probably at his best right now. That's why we're really optimistic about the way he's gonna perform."

Therrien was grinnin' like a butcher's dog when issuing that assessment, but he wasn't joking.

Fleury's about to find out if he'll have the last laugh.


04-10-2007, 11:22 PM
Roberts inspired by Badger Bob

By Joe Starkey
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

"Badger" Bob Johnson has been gone for more than 15 years, but his presence looms over the Penguins' first-round playoff series with the Ottawa Senators.

Twenty-three years ago, Johnson's calculated shaming of an 18-year-old rookie hotshot -- in front of the whole team -- helped to forge one of the steeliest wills the game has ever seen.

"It was a real hit to my confidence," says Penguins winger Gary Roberts, now 40. "But when I look back on it, it's probably why I am the way I am today."

The way Roberts is -- ferocious, proud and playoff-tested -- is the reason Penguins general manager Ray Shero gave up prospect Noah Welch to get him. The deal was criticized in some circles, but nobody's complaining now.

Strike that. They're complaining in Ottawa, where everybody wanted the Senators to snag Roberts from the Florida Panthers at the deadline. Roberts wanted that, too. He listed Ottawa and Toronto as the teams for which he would waive his no-trade clause, but Senators GM John Muckler wasn't willing to pay the price.

You wonder if Muckler will regret that. Could it be that Roberts' menacing presence is just what the Senators are missing -- what they've always been missing?

Flash back to the summer of 1984. Roberts was on top of the world, having been selected 12th overall by the Calgary Flames, 11 picks after the Penguins took Mario Lemieux.

Roberts spent his summer playing lacrosse, wrongly figuring it would have him in prime condition for his first NHL camp. The Flames were ahead of the curve in conditioning because of Badger Bob's innovative methods.

One day early in camp, Johnson stunned Roberts by parading him in front of the veteran team as an example of what a non-committed hockey player looks like.

"He called me out, basically embarrassed me in front of everybody," Roberts recalled. "At the time, I obviously wasn't a big fan, but as I matured and learned, I realized he was right."

Back in junior for the next two years, Roberts became something of a fitness freak. Johnson's hurtful words had prompted him to carry a chin-up bar wherever he went. You can imagine the curious reactions when he'd put the thing up in the doorway of his hotel room.

Roberts helped the Flames win the Stanley Cup in 1989, by which time Johnson had been replaced by Terry Crisp.

On top of the world again, Roberts, 23, had no clue his career would crumble seven years later because of nerve and disc damage in his neck. All those violent hits exacted a terrible toll.

He retired in 1996, after two surgeries, but worked his way back under the guidance of noted Calgary-based strength coach Charles Poliquin.

After sitting out the 1996-97 season, Roberts returned, first with the Carolina Hurricanes, then the Leafs. The nasty scar on his neck only added to his legend, as he sparked the Leafs on some hearty playoff runs.

It took Lemieux, Mark Recchi and Shero to coax Roberts into coming to Pittsburgh, where the Penguins' dressing room is adorned with Badger Bob's famous saying, "It's a Great Day for Hockey."

"First thing I saw when I walked in," Roberts said.

Though he didn't get to share Calgary's championship with Johnson, Roberts received a much greater gift -- closure. It came in the weeks before Johnson's death from brain cancer, in a locker room in Denver in the fall of 1991.

The Flames were there to play an exhibition game. Johnson, who had coached the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup months earlier, sat in a wheelchair as the entire Calgary team greeted him one-by-one.

Roberts wells up as he recalls his final turn with Badger Bob.

"I remember him grabbing my hand and saying, 'Hey, Roberts, I knew you'd make it.'

"I realized, at that moment, that he really cared."


04-11-2007, 12:43 AM
Fleury's big season mirrors Penguins'

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

To NHL scoring champion Sidney Crosby, it's no coincidence the Pittsburgh Penguins became very good in the same season that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did.

Asked how the Penguins made such a dramatic improvement in only a year's time ? from 22 victories a season ago to 47 this season ? the first name Crosby mentioned was Fleury's.

Crosby could have pointed to rookie Evgeni Malkin and his 85 points. Or Jordan Staal's 29 goals and the 18-year-old rookie's strong play on the penalty-killing unit. Or Sergei Gonchar and his 67-point season, the second-best among NHL defensemen.

Instead, Crosby and the Penguins understand that how well the 22-year-old Fleury plays in their first-round series against Ottawa may determine if they reach the second round. The series begins Wednesday night in Ottawa.

"Starting in goal, I think you have to have a great goalie in order to be successful, and Marc has really done a good job," Crosby said.

Fleury was the first in the Penguins' series of No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks who have developed into stars in a relatively short time ? Crosby, Malkin and Staal would follow. Fleury became their starting goalie at age 18 and, understandably, struggled on bad teams while going 4-14-2 in 2003-04 and 13-27-6 last season.

This season, Fleury has been in net for 40 of the Penguins' 47 wins, tying him for third in NHL goalie victories behind New Jersey's Martin Brodeur (48) and Vancouver's Roberto Luongo (47). Buffalo's Ryan Miller and Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff also won 40.

"He's playing really well lately. That's a great sign for him, it's a great sign for our hockey team," coach Michel Therrien said. "You want to make sure your goalie the last few games, the way he's playing, you want to try to bring that to the playoffs. Fleury is probably at his best right now, so that's why we're really optimistic about the way he's going to perform."

Fleury is 9-2-1 in his last dozen starts, allowing two goals or fewer six times. His strong play has been helped by the Penguins' growing familiarity and success with the defensive system installed by Therrien when he took over in December 2005. The Penguins' 2.93 goals-against average is down nearly a goal per game from their 3.78 of last season.

"All the guys in here put pressure on themselves to be responsible and to work hard," Crosby said. "We do have talent, but I think our work ethic is our strength as a group, and our chemistry. I think that's what's gotten us to this point."

Fleury had a few rough spots in his breakthrough season. He was benched for two games in February after allowing six goals against the Islanders, but he has lost only three times in regulation during his last 16 starts. He also occasionally fails to smother rebounds, which can lead to second-chance scoring opportunities.

Fleury's backup, Jocelyn Thibault, also played effectively during the second half of the season ? his 2.83 goals-against average in 22 games was identical to Fleury's in 67 games. However, Thibault's 7-8-2 record doesn't compare to Fleury's 40-16-9.

"I'm really excited just to get started, to play that first game," Fleury said of his playoff debut. "It will be pretty cool, I think. I don't think about it (the pressure). If I can do a good job, just get some wins, that's what really matters."

The Senators are a difficult opponent for a goalie who has never appeared in the playoffs ? they scored 286 goals during the season, second only to Buffalo's 298. With Dany Heatley (50 goals, 105 points), Jason Spezza (34 goals, 87 points) and Daniel Alfredsson (29, goals, 87 points), they have three imposing scorers who can decide a game.

The Penguins also believe they have the goaltender who can stop them. Fleury was 2-1 against Ottawa during the season.

Fleury doesn't think his lack of playoff experience will matter ? a year ago, Carolina's Cam Ward won the Stanley Cup during his first playoff run.

"I like the challenge. I think it will be tough for sure, but once we get going it will be pretty good," Fleury said. "They've got some good offensive guys, so it's a little bit tougher for the goalie, but if I do a good job, we should be fine."


04-11-2007, 07:18 AM
Great reads everyone - thanks! :cheers:

7:00 PM can't get here soon enough for me! I feel really good about this round and think the Cardiac Kids will be ready to do battle. :banana:

Good luck Pens - we're behind you all the way! :cheers:

04-11-2007, 11:12 AM
6 HOURS AND 45 MINUTES!!!! :banana: :jammin: :banana: :jammin:

Hundreds rally for Penguins
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

By Chico Harlan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Several hundred people gathered in their black and gold finery today to rally for the Penguins as the team begins its playoff run.

The Allegheny County Courthouse courtyard held 250 to 300 people just before the rally, with more filing in from Downtown offices. they were being treated to free hot dogs and lollipops and the sight of mini, inflatable Penguins bobbing in the courtyard pond.

City and county governments are sponsoring the rally. The Penguins play in Ottawa at 7 p.m.


04-11-2007, 12:28 PM
Sidney Crosby at a glance

By Rob Rossi
Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Winning the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer at the tender age of 19 is nice, but Sidney Crosby wants more -- and not just in the form of Lord Stanley's Cup.
"We play (a game on PlayStation Portable) 'SOCOM,' and I was not so good at it," he admits.

"We have teams of five on the plane rides, and I'm, like, the weak-link." Sid's gamer teammates include tough-guy winger Georges Laraque, sarcastic defenseman Ryan Whitney, feisty funny-guy forward Maxim Talbot and best-friend/occasional linemate Colby Armstrong, who kindly assessed his "SOCOM" skills as "OK... sometimes."

Ever the competitor, Crosby has devoted many non-hockey hours to improving his (video) game.

"I've been practicing a lot," Sidney says. "I've started to pick up my performance. I'm going to get the hang of it."

With the Pens looking to make a long run in these playoffs, Sidney could have plenty of in-flight opportunities to prove just how far he has come.

If his on-ice performance from his second season is a precedent, it won't be long until Sid the Kid is the best "SOCOM" player on the planet.


04-11-2007, 02:45 PM

http://pittsburgh-penguins-news.newslib.com/img/logo/4066.gif VS http://ottawa-senators-news.newslib.com/img/logo/6473.gif

04-11-2007, 04:09 PM
AGGGHHHH!!!! I can't wait! Been waiting for this all day. Anyone able to get tix for game "C" today? I couldn't--I was online at 10 and still couldn't.
1 hour and 51 minutes!

04-11-2007, 04:49 PM
Well it's that time for me to put up that famous saying.


Tonight from the Scotiabank Place, it's the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Ottawa Senators.

04-11-2007, 05:20 PM
Good Pre-game Clip to get it started..........

Just to give Ottawa an idea of what they have coming to them over the next week or so....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mSdXo4p-aM

Might as well throw this one in there. :jammin: :jammin: :jammin: :jammin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhTRhAX_QBA&mode=related&search=


04-11-2007, 05:35 PM
This clip is one of the best songs ever made but I felt it's proper for Bryan Murray after we boot his ass out of the playoffs..............

Enjoy Bryan Murray: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEbgB6X6S5c

04-11-2007, 06:13 PM
1-0 Ottawa and they have leaped out of the gates. It's fine, one goal guys. Turn around and get it back.

04-11-2007, 06:20 PM
2-0 Ottawa and we look flat. CALL T.O.!!!!

04-11-2007, 06:24 PM

04-11-2007, 06:26 PM
Fleury risked giving up 3 right there.

04-11-2007, 06:27 PM
Emery isn't missing anything.

04-11-2007, 06:31 PM

04-11-2007, 06:31 PM
WTF? Why are we getting 2 Penalties?

04-11-2007, 06:32 PM
That's the problem, Emery hasn't had to do anything. Three shots and all three were weak. They have 14 shots. Up to this point Fleury is the only reason why this score isn't 4-0.

Our passing looks sloppy and the Sens are on Crosby like flies on :poop:

On that note, Sens on a 5 on 3 PP coming up. Ugh.

04-11-2007, 06:33 PM

04-11-2007, 06:35 PM
NICE JOB! Killed the Penalties and a NICE Save by Fleury.

04-11-2007, 06:35 PM
Dodged a big bullet right there and Fleury is making some UNBELIEVABLE saves.

04-11-2007, 06:36 PM
Pens PP coming up. This is our second one. CASH IN.

04-11-2007, 06:36 PM
Alright, Let's Take advantage of this POWER PLAY. Time to cut the Senator lead in half.

04-11-2007, 06:39 PM
COME ON! we need to score here guys.

04-11-2007, 06:41 PM
COME THE **** ON! When we have the advantage, we need to TAKE ADVANTAGE!

04-11-2007, 06:41 PM
Another PP coming up for Pens. Third time is a charm? If Recchi can take a pass?

04-11-2007, 06:42 PM


04-11-2007, 06:43 PM

04-11-2007, 06:46 PM
Come on now, we're a little rested. LET'S SCORE HERE.

04-11-2007, 06:46 PM
****! Come on guys. QUIT SCREWING UP plowerplay chances.

04-11-2007, 06:48 PM
COME ON MAX! You're already down 1 man.

04-11-2007, 06:48 PM
Geico Caveman takes a slashing penalty in Ottawa's zone to make it 4 on 4 and Talbot takes a penalty shortly afterwards. Ottawa has the 5 on 3.

04-11-2007, 06:49 PM
Nice save by Fleury.

04-11-2007, 06:50 PM
2-0 Senators after one. This team better regroup after this period. We are fortunate to only be down by 2 after one.

04-11-2007, 06:50 PM
Could have been worse. but overall the grade for this period:SUCKED

04-11-2007, 06:52 PM
That's about as bad a period as they could possibly play. They looked like they weren't ready from the opening faceoff.

Gotta say it - it'll be 1-0 Sens after this game.

04-11-2007, 06:56 PM
That's about as bad a period as they could possibly play. They looked like they weren't ready from the opening faceoff.

Gotta say it - it'll be 1-0 Sens after this game.

I hope that's to curse Ottawa.

04-11-2007, 06:57 PM
Could have been worse. but overall the grade for this period:SUCKED

That's the truth. Well, in the past we have dropped the first game (not saying this game is over, it's not until the clock reads 00:00) and we have bounced back. Hell, we have been down 3-1 in past series. The same morons who will be writing this team off tomorrow morning (if we lose) are the same idiots who were either A) Not even watching hockey back in the early 90's or B) Sitting home on their couch back in the early 90's spewing the same B.S.

Well, we have two periods SCM. We have seen this team down by 3 with one remaining. Keep that faith!!!

04-11-2007, 06:59 PM
That's the truth. Well, in the past we have dropped the first game (not saying this game is over, it's not until the clock reads 00:00) and we have bounced back. The same morons who will be writing this team off tomorrow morning (if we lose) are the same idiots who were either A) Not even watching hockey back in the early 90's or B) Sitting home on their couch back in the early 90's spewing the same B.S.

Well, we have two periods SCM. We have seen this team down by 3 with one remaining. Keep that faith!!!

It's tough to do, but hey, we've done it before 83. Who says keeping the faith won't help us again tonight.

04-11-2007, 07:01 PM
It's tough to do, but hey, we've done it before 83. Who says keeping the faith won't help us again tonight.

Keep the faith SCM, keep the faith. How many times has it worked in the past with us? lol. :wink02:

It's only been one period and we are only down two.

04-11-2007, 07:02 PM
Keep the faith SCM, keep the faith. How many times has it worked in the past with us? lol. :wink02:

Too many to count. :smile:

04-11-2007, 07:07 PM
I hope that's to curse Ottawa.

Nope, it isn't. The Pens looked like complete crap in that period, and are lucky to be only down 2-0. But this is playoff hockey, and it's much more difficult to come back even from a 2-goal deficit.

If that makes me a "moron," then so be it.

04-11-2007, 07:08 PM
There goes 1 penalty.

04-11-2007, 07:08 PM

04-11-2007, 07:09 PM
If that makes me a "moron," then so be it.

I wasn't referring to you, so how about not worry about it. M'kay? M'kay.

04-11-2007, 07:09 PM
Alright guys, we got face off in Ottawa Zone, LET'S SCORE!

04-11-2007, 07:10 PM

We are dodging some major bullets here. I'm sure Therrien had a nice pep talk with them in between periods.

04-11-2007, 07:10 PM
That's about as bad a period as they could possibly play. They looked like they weren't ready from the opening faceoff.

Gotta say it - it'll be 1-0 Sens after this game.

Nope - I'm not even going to say it. You know exactly what I'm thinking. :mallet: :mallet: :mallet: :mallet: :bash: :bash:

There are still 2 periods of hockey yet to play - don't throw in the towel just yet. Remember the Flyers game and how awful that crowburger tasted???? :flap: OK - I know the Flyers aren't the Sens, but for God's sake - have a little faith will ya?

04-11-2007, 07:10 PM
Pens 4th PP coming on up.

04-11-2007, 07:10 PM

04-11-2007, 07:10 PM
We are dodging some major bullets here. I'm sure Therrien had a nice pep talk with them in between periods.

Sure looks like it.

04-11-2007, 07:12 PM
Good work by Gonchar deflecting that shot.

04-11-2007, 07:13 PM
And we blow ANOTHER one.

04-11-2007, 07:13 PM
Recchi is going to drive me up a wall tonight.

04-11-2007, 07:14 PM

04-11-2007, 07:15 PM
Recchi is going to drive me up a wall tonight.

How they've played is driving me up a wall.

04-11-2007, 07:16 PM
Nice Save by Fleury.

04-11-2007, 07:16 PM
Nevermind his point blank opportunity on our last PP, but somebody stick some crazy glue on his blade. Take a pass.

04-11-2007, 07:17 PM

04-11-2007, 07:20 PM
Nope - I'm not even going to say it. You know exactly what I'm thinking. :mallet: :mallet: :mallet: :mallet: :bash: :bash:

There are still 2 periods of hockey yet to play - don't throw in the towel just yet. Remember the Flyers game and how awful that crowburger tasted???? :flap: OK - I know the Flyers aren't the Sens, but for God's sake - have a little faith will ya?

It's tough to have faith when the team only has 5 shots on goal and are basically getting their asses kicked all over the ice tonight. The Pens were not ready to play this game - period.

As I said - 1-0 Sens after this game.

04-11-2007, 07:21 PM
I wasn't referring to you, so how about not worry about it. M'kay? M'kay.

You might want to clarify your point then, especially since it came right after my post. M'kay? Thanks.

04-11-2007, 07:21 PM
Come on guys, SCORE!

04-11-2007, 07:23 PM
NICE Save by Fleury AGAIN.

04-11-2007, 07:23 PM
You might want to clarify your point then, especially since it came right after my post. M'kay? Thanks.

Well, judging that I have ignored you for the last three months I was hoping you would pick up on the fact that I was not talking about you at all. Guess not and not surprising considering.

04-11-2007, 07:24 PM
NICE Save by Fleury AGAIN.

We have been saying that quite a bit in over these last twenty posts...lol. Not good.

04-11-2007, 07:25 PM
We are getting our chances now. Better than that first period. We are putting on some pressure. Let's go Pens!!!

04-11-2007, 07:25 PM
Man, we can't get the breaks tonight.

04-11-2007, 07:25 PM
We have been saying that quite a bit in over these last twenty posts...lol. Not good.

Amen to that brother. I want to be able to post up a goal for the Penguins, but damn it, we can't score right now.

04-11-2007, 07:26 PM
Man, we can't get the breaks tonight.

We play the way we did in those last two minutes and we will get those breaks. Still early. Keep it up boys!!!

04-11-2007, 07:28 PM
We play the way we did in those last two minutes and we will get those breaks. Still early. Keep it up boys!!!

And don't stop believing in a Penguins Win tonight.

04-11-2007, 07:30 PM

04-11-2007, 07:30 PM
PP coming on up for the Pens!!!

04-11-2007, 07:31 PM
My message to Senators fans

Quit your booin' you're up by too much.

04-11-2007, 07:31 PM
Well, judging that I have ignored you for the last three months I was hoping you would pick up on the fact that I was not talking about you at all. Guess not and not surprising considering.

Ooooo, you've ignored me! Let me just go jump right off a bridge straight away! Like I really give a damn. :coffee:

You still need to clarify your points so that anyone - not just me - doesn't misinterpret what you say. This is a message board, and messages can be lost in translation. You've been around long enough to know this, so don't blame me or anyone else for not "picking up on that."

04-11-2007, 07:32 PM
and don't they know that you have power plays to have an advantage trying to score a goal not screw yourselves over further.

04-11-2007, 07:33 PM
Damn, it looked like we had that one.

04-11-2007, 07:33 PM
Ooooo, you've ignored me! Let me just go jump right off a bridge straight away!

Go for it...lol.

Anyways, yeah I gotcha Mr. X. I don't know what got into me. I haven't been on the net for 10 years so I apologize to you Mr. X. Take care buddy, run along. Pfffhh.

04-11-2007, 07:34 PM
Damn, it looked like we had that one.

Geico Caveman blew the chance. Getting closer SCM, getting closer.

04-11-2007, 07:35 PM
3-0 Sens. Ouch. That one hurt..lol.

04-11-2007, 07:36 PM
:banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :uhh: :uhh: :argue: :argue: :flipoff: :upyours: :mad: :chair: :frustrate :headbutt: :rocket: :m16:

The emotions should say it all.

04-11-2007, 07:38 PM
:banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :uhh: :uhh: :argue: :argue: :flipoff: :upyours: :mad: :chair: :frustrate :headbutt: :rocket: :m16:

The emotions should say it all.

I hear ya brother. Not looking good. That third goal is a killer.

04-11-2007, 07:39 PM
Go for it...lol.

Anyways, yeah I gotcha Mr. X. I don't know what got into me. I haven't been on the net for 10 years so I apologize to you Mr. X. Take care buddy, run along. Pfffhh.

No need for your backhanded apology, Mr. 83 The Self-Proclaimed Genius Who Only Talks To Those Who Kiss His Ass. Just continue to ignore me, and we'll co-exist just fine.

04-11-2007, 07:39 PM
No need for your backhanded apology, Mr. 83 The Self-Proclaimed Genius. Just continue to ignore me, and we'll co-exist just fine.

Are you still going? Typical. Give it a rest buddy. Let it go even though I'm sure your not capable. :toofunny:

04-11-2007, 07:41 PM

04-11-2007, 07:41 PM
3-1 baby!!! Come on. Let's get a momentum change here boys!! Staal with the goal.

04-11-2007, 07:43 PM




(Repeat statement)

04-11-2007, 07:43 PM
Let's score it shorthanded.

04-11-2007, 07:43 PM
Ugh, Sid with the penalty.

04-11-2007, 07:44 PM




(Repeat statement)

See, now I'm not sure if you should be next to Therrien on the bench or announce the goals at the home games. :wink02:

04-11-2007, 07:46 PM
See, now I'm not sure if you should be next to Therrien on the bench or announce the goals at the home games. :wink02:

lol this is a case for me to be by Johnny B.

As for my goal speech.


04-11-2007, 07:47 PM
And we find ourselves down by two after two. Not bad.

04-11-2007, 07:50 PM
A better period than the first, but that 3rd goal was devastating. It would have been much better being down 1 goal rather than 2, but oh well. I'll just hope they have some 3rd period magic left over from the regular season. There have also been some really ticky tacky penalty calls in this game - the one on Christensen especially. That was a clear dive by Alfredsson that got no call from the referee.

04-11-2007, 08:03 PM
Alright guys 20 more minutes. Let's comeback and WIN!


04-11-2007, 08:04 PM
Damn it. 4-1 Sens on the PP.

04-11-2007, 08:05 PM
:banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :banging: :frustrate :frustrate :frustrate

That is all

04-11-2007, 08:05 PM
Sid SCORES!!!!!!!!!!

Goal under review...blah. Should be a goal IMO. There's no way in hell Sid saw that puck underneath his culo.

04-11-2007, 08:08 PM

04-11-2007, 08:08 PM
NO GOAL?!?!?!?!!??!!??!?!? B.S.!!!!!!

04-11-2007, 08:09 PM
He didn't even SEE THE PUCK. Well, we just got screwed...................royally.

04-11-2007, 08:09 PM
NO GOAL?!?!?!?!!??!!??!?!? B.S.!!!!!!

:iagree: total BULLSHIT call. You can't determine that.

04-11-2007, 08:10 PM
He didn't even SEE THE PUCK. Well, we just got screwed.

once again :iagree:

04-11-2007, 08:11 PM
Such is the way it has gone for the Pens tonight. Can't catch a break.

04-11-2007, 08:12 PM
Such is the way it has gone for the Pens tonight. Can't catch a break.

you can say that again!

04-11-2007, 08:13 PM
:iagree: total BULLSHIT call. You can't determine that.

Leave it up to the guys in Toronto to blow it. Christ, all you have to do is look at the puck and look at Sid's head. Sid is looking left (while swinging his stick) and the puck is underneath him. It was also called a goal in the first place.

How hard is it?

04-11-2007, 08:14 PM
Leave it up to the guys in Toronto to blow it. Christ, all you have to do is look at the puck and look at Sid's head. Sid is looking left (while swinging his stick) and the puck is underneath him.

How hard is it?

It's so easy, it's like paying money to buy a loaf of bread.

04-11-2007, 08:16 PM
Malone's getting drilled and we're trying to make a line change? Wow.

04-11-2007, 08:17 PM
come on now WE NEED A GOAL!

04-11-2007, 08:18 PM
Malkin has been taking a beating tonight. As I stated in the beginning of the season, boy needs to put on a few pounds. He got laid out in the corner boards in the first period by a guy 3 times smaller than himself.

Also, ever since Therrien split up Malkin and Staal neither player has been the same. I didn't like the decision when it was first made and I still don't like it.

04-11-2007, 08:19 PM
And that may have just ****ed the game. Bring in Thibault and let Fleury rest. Fleury can't do this all alone. He's D isn't helping him.

04-11-2007, 08:19 PM
5-1. This is ugly.

04-11-2007, 08:20 PM
Also, where in the hell has Laraque been? I haven't heard his name called once. They are beating the hell out of Malkin and Sid tonight. Why hasn't Laraque gone after their big guns? I'm not asking for a fight at all, but throw your body.

04-11-2007, 08:23 PM
Also, where in the hell has Laraque been? I haven't heard his name called once. They are beating the hell out of Malkin and Sid tonight. Why hasn't Laraque gone after their big guns? I'm not asking for a fight at all, but throw your body.

I wonder that to.

04-11-2007, 08:25 PM

04-11-2007, 08:25 PM
How many times do I have to say it


04-11-2007, 08:25 PM
Where the hell is Thibault?

04-11-2007, 08:26 PM
Well, that's enough of that.

Here's hoping for a better effort on Saturday afternoon.

04-11-2007, 08:27 PM
Well, that's enough of that.

Here's hoping for a better effort on Saturday afternoon.

:cheers: Let's hope they at least finish tonight's game strong.

04-11-2007, 08:28 PM
Oh well SCM. It was a tough game tonight as expected. Playing on the road in front of a pumped up Ottawa crowd in our first playoff game can result in a 6-1 beating.

I'm anxious to see how we bounce back from this one game out of a possible seven. Our boys have experienced what it's like and what they have do in the playoffs after game one.

Lick our wounds and live to fight another day.

04-11-2007, 08:30 PM
Oh well SCM. It was a tough game tonight as expected. Playing on the road in front of a pumped up Ottawa crowd in our first playoff game can result in a 6-1 beating.

I'm anxious to see how we bounce back from this one game out of a possible seven. Our boys have experienced what it's like and what they have do in the playoffs after game one.

Lick our wounds and live to fight another day.

We definantly can NOT let this go to our heads.

Where was Jocelyn earlier?

04-11-2007, 08:30 PM
FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

04-11-2007, 08:31 PM
Ok I see LaRaque on the Bench, Now I'm wondering why he hasn't done anything.

04-11-2007, 08:36 PM
Well if only they could have had that EARLIER.

04-11-2007, 08:47 PM
That was Sid's I got two words for ya for ripping me off goal.

04-11-2007, 08:58 PM
Well at least we ended this game with a couple goals.

04-11-2007, 11:16 PM
Ottawa dominates Pens in Game 1

By Karen Price
Thursday, April 12, 2007

OTTAWA - The start of the Penguins' 2007 playoff run could not have been more disastrous.

How it will end is still anyone's guess.

But on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place, the Ottawa Senators rolled out the red carpet for the Penguins, then covered them with it and walked all over them, rolling to a 6-3 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.

"We can't be worse than that," coach Michel Therrien said.

Hardly a thing went right for the Penguins, who for the first 10 minutes of the game looked like a bunch of guys who met for the first time when they got to the bench.

They trailed by two goals just 6:38 into the game, were outshot, 21-8, at the midway point and trailed by three before Jordan Staal scored the Penguins' first goal at 16:58 of the second period.

The Penguins didn't score again until 12:42 of the third period, when they were down, 6-1, and Sergei Gonchar and Sidney Crosby converted power plays to end the game.

Six players scored for the Senators, 13 recorded points and goaltender Ray Emery made 23 saves on 26 shots.

"We didn't bring our best," said Crosby, who had one apparent goal disallowed but another count in the last minute of his NHL playoff debut. "I think if we looked at ourselves and said, 'We threw everything at them and this is the result,' then I think we'd be questioning ourselves, but we have a lot more to show."

With 10 minutes left, Penguins coach Michel Therrien pulled starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, whom he later said played well and gave them a chance to stay in the game. Fleury made 30 saves but allowed three goals on seven shots in the third period.

The Penguins took a physical beating as well.

The Senators eliminated rookie Evgeni Malkin with their physical play early in the first period, and the rookie center was barely noticeable from then on. Ryan Whitney took a hard hit that sent him off the ice favoring his left side in the third period, and Crosby was attended to briefly by trainer Chris Stewart after a collision with Daniel Alfredsson in the third period bent him backwards.

It wasn't until the second period that the Penguins started to settle down and bear at least some small resemblance to the team that went 31-9-5 from Jan. 1 to the end of the regular season.

But the Senators came out and scored nine seconds into the third to make it 4-1. An apparent goal by Crosby 14 seconds later was disallowed after a video review ruled that Crosby had kicked the puck into the net.

"I'd have to see the replay, but I tried to hit it with my stick," Crosby said. "I missed it with my stick. I don't know how it went in. I thought it hit my shinpad. It's a tough one to take. We probably could have had a little more momentum after they scored. (Referee Paul) Devorski saw it, and I guess he got overruled. I thought for sure it was going to be a goal."

The Senators are 3-3 when they've won the first game of a playoff series and 2-6 when they lose Game 1.

Game 2 is on Saturday in Ottawa.

"They're a proud bunch, they won't roll over and die," the Senators' Jason Spezza said. "The next game will be way harder than this one. We need to take advantage of our home ice, and that means winning two games here."


04-11-2007, 11:18 PM
Inside the Pens' 6-3 loss to Ottawa

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Game breakdown

Hit of the game: Senators forward Mike Comrie, all 5-feet-10 of him, crunched 6-2 Penguins rookie Evgeni Malkin on the second shift of the game. The hit led to a goal and established precedent. Ottawa hammered the Penguins' stars all night. Malkin disappeared after the hit.

Turning point: Lyndon Slewidge's stirring rendition of "Oh, Canada" must have set the tone for a first period in which the Senators skated as if propelled by jet packs. If the anthem wasn't the turning point, then the opening faceoff surely was.

Numbers game: Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson had six shots on goal in the first period and misfired on four others, meaning he directed an astounding 10 shots toward Marc-Andre Fleury in the first 20 minutes. ... The Penguins were 0 for 5 on the power play through two periods, averaging a shot per power play.

Highlight reel: Senators tough guy Chris Neil looked like Mario Lemieux on a third-period breakaway, faking a forehand and lifting a backhander past Fleury.

Save of the game: Penguins defensemen made almost as many saves as Fleury in the first period. Rob Scuderi made a miraculous play six minutes into the game, when he batted Alfredsson's sure goal out of mid-air, just before it entered the net. Mark Eaton later made consecutive saves on Dany Heatley at the goal mouth.

Three Stars

3. Daniel Alfredsson, Senators, RW. One-man firing range.

2. Chris Phillips, Senators, D. Bottled up Crosby and Pens' top line.

1. Anton Volchenkov, Senators, D. See Phillips.


04-11-2007, 11:20 PM
Pens' young stars better respond

By Joe Starkey
Thursday, April 12, 2007


Welcome to the playoffs, boys.

Wow. What an initiation.

The Ottawa Senators humiliated the bumbling Penguins in every conceivable fashion Wednesday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

And that was just in the first seven minutes.

It wouldn't get much better, as the Senators rolled to a 6-3 victory.

Ottawa manhandled the Penguins from the first shift, ruined their power play, bombarded goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury -- who morphed into Marc-Andre Flustered by the time he was pulled midway through the third period -- and generally left the impression that this series could be shorter than coach Bryan Murray's fuse.

Yeah, it was only one game, but the Penguins will be looking at a must-win situation Sunday night at Mellon Arena if they don't radically transform themselves and win Game 2 on Saturday.

It could happen, but only if the team's young stars adjust overnight to the head-bashing reality of playoff hockey. Maybe there's a witch doctor somewhere in Ottawa who can help with that.

Jordan Staal played a decent game, but his fellow five-star youngsters Fleury, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Whitney and Evgeni Malkin played like they'd never encountered such a scene. Which, of course, they hadn't.

Scotiabank Place was packed with delirious Senators fans all decked in red.

Malkin got decked on his first shift, when tiny Mike Comrie pounded him like a nail into the corner boards deep in the Penguins' end. A few seconds later, Ottawa led, 1-0.

Malkin played one good shift -- midway through the second period. For much of the night, he looked as if he didn't want the puck, probably because he knew touching it would mean pain. He didn't even register a shot.

The way Crosby gets bottled up against this team, Malkin becomes that much more critical to the Penguins' chances.

As for Crosby, he made a handful of un-Crosby-like plays through the first two periods, showing obvious signs of tightness.

The Kid has a major problem on his hands. Two of them, actually.

Murray sends out hulking defenseman Chris Phillips and his built-like-a-boulder partner, Anton Volchenkov, every time Crosby hits the ice.

Those two combined for 10 hits, a good many on Crosby. Volchenkov also delivered a symbolic hit at 13:04 of the second period, nearly depositing Gary Roberts into the Senators bench.

Several hours before the game, somebody asked Crosby about his lack of success against the Senators. He came in with one goal in seven career games against them.

"Maybe the points haven't been there against them," Crosby said, "but I haven't felt shut down."

That mindset might have changed by the end of the second period, by which time Crosby had only one shot. He had a goal disallowed on a kick 23 seconds into the third period and scored a meaningless goal in the final minute.

The lack of punch on Crosby's wings might get badly exposed in this series. Not only does he have to contend with that and with Ottawa's bash brothers, but also with the most dynamic line in the league.

Murray likes to use Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza against Crosby's line.

In the face of such firepower, maybe it's time Penguins coach Michel Therrien puts Crosby and Malkin back together.

Fleury actually didn't play that badly, considering he spent much of the night serving as Daniel Alfredsson's personal clay pigeon. Alfredsson directed 13 shots at Fleury, eight of them on goal. Incredibly, he didn't score.

Maybe somebody on the visiting team could take a lesson from the Senators and try to hit Alfredsson next game.

By the middle of the third period, the Senators were taking unimpeded runs at everyone in sight.

Christoph Schubert, for example, detonated Sergei Gonchar twice in a matter of seconds, and all Gonchar could do was turn and complain to the referee.

No use in that. This is a problem the Penguins need to fix themselves.


04-11-2007, 11:24 PM
Senators' experience clobbers Pens' youth

By Rob Rossi
Thursday, April 12, 2007

OTTAWA - A few shifts. That is how long defenseman Ryan Whitney had guessed he and 13 Penguins teammates would need Wednesday to skate off the nervousness that accompanied their NHL postseason debuts.

After that, Whitney figured, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the playoff-tested Ottawa Senators would begin to resemble the Penguins' 82 regular-season games.

"What's better than the first 10 minutes of Game 1?" Whitney said before the Penguins' playoff opener. "It's about coming out and being confident, not being on our heels.

"After the first few shifts, everything will settle down."

Forgive Whitney if the mass of red that was Scotiabank Place seemed about as settling as a wildfire. Early in their convincing, 6-3 victory over the Penguins, the Senators were that hot.

Twenty minutes into the playoff careers of most of the Penguins players, they trailed, 2-0, and had managed only four shots -- none of them posing much danger of getting past Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery.

Conversely, Ottawa peppered goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with 16 shots over the first 20 minutes, all the while playing the ace card that was its vast playoff-experience advantage.

"Experience is one of those things that you don't know how it's going to work out," Ottawa center Jason Spezza said. "Ours definitely helped us tonight."

The Senators improved to 26-10 when scoring first in a playoff game.

Ottawa entered this series with a 2-6 mark in the playoffs when they dropped an opener. However, such a poor record did not fuel a desire to chase the Penguins into the first intermission.

"I didn't even know that stat," Ottawa right wing Daniel Alfredsson said. "We talked about trying to take momentum right away, and we were able to do that because we started well."

Despite their dominance last night, the Senators conceded that an opening victory does not a series make. Whether the young players among the Penguins can put a disappointing playoff debut behind them could shape the remainder of this one.

"You have to lose four to lose a series, so you have to keep your focus. I didn't realize that when I was younger," Spezza said. "Keeping your focus is not easy to do."

That is the challenge that will await the Penguins in Game 2 on Saturday. Perhaps the Penguins can take comfort in knowing that 16 times during the regular season they followed a loss with a victory.

"We have bounced back all year long," rookie Jordan Staal said. "It's a long series."

The Penguins can only hope.


04-11-2007, 11:26 PM
Ottawa's Fisher draws assignment of containing Crosby

By The Tribune-Review
Thursday, April 12, 2007

For all of the Ottawa Senators' offensive firepower, the key to advancing past the Penguins in the best-of-seven playoff series might come in the form of a player who scored just four goals over his final 21 regular-season games. As was the case during the regular season, Senators center Mike Fisher drew the responsibility of stopping league-leading scorer Sidney Crosby.

"I don't know if you actually stop him," Fisher said. "Against Sidney, you just try to keep him from going off."

Fisher and the Senators did something right against Crosby during the regular season, limiting him to a goal and four points over four games. Crosby has totaled only five points in seven career games against the Senators. Consensus among Ottawa's players credited Fisher, one of the league's surest defensive forwards.

"Sid battles and competes, so for me it's about keeping my feet moving and not giving him much time," Fisher said. "He can draw penalties so easily that I need to make sure I'm in good position and use my speed."

? Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery said he did not expect this series to become a high-scoring affair, despite the Senators and Penguins posting the second- and third-most regular-season goals, respectively.

"I don't think they'll come running and gunning too much," Emery said of the Penguins. "They realize that you can make mistakes that way, and they want to limit their mistakes. We do, too. With both of these teams, chances can turn into goals fast."

? Winger Jarkko Ruutu didn't have a point in the Penguins' final regular-season game against the Senators, but he deserved credit for two of their goals with his feisty play. Ruutu, who was about to put the Senators on the power play for an attempted charge at Ottawa center Jason Spezza behind the net, said something that made Spezza lose his composure. Spezza elbowed Ruutu and was called for roughing and elbowing to cancel out his team's power play and put the Senators down a man for five minutes. The Penguins scored twice to erase a 1-0 deficit.

"I don't think you can go looking for it, but you have to take a chance and you have to go hard," Ruutu said of attempting to coax penalties out of the other teams' players. "That's what it's really all about it. There's a lot of guys that don't like to get hit that get rattled and will try to get back at you instead of trying to score goals."

? With so many young players on the Penguins' roster, the experience of veterans and Stanley Cup winners Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi could prove invaluable during these playoffs.

"Gary had a lot of good things to say in our meetings from his experiences, but for the most part it's going to be watching them raise their game," forward Erik Christensen said. "They're the ones to watch. For a young guy like me, that's important."

? The Penguins scratched the following players for Game 1: defensemen Joel Kwiatkowski and Alain Nasreddine, center Chris Thornburn and right wings Ronald Petrovicky and Nils Ekman.


3 - Consecutive opening-round playoff series won by the Penguins

.714 - Ottawa's postseason winning percentage when scoring the first goal

.333 - Penguins' postseason winning percentage in Canada


04-11-2007, 11:28 PM
No, Ms. Trautman, the Pens aren't going to win the Cup this season. They may not win a game if they don't turn things around, and quick.

About 1,000 show for Pens rally

By Andrew Conte
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Linda Trautman, 50, of Crafton Heights dug into her basement for the homemade Stanley Cup she fashioned more than 15 years ago.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, in the great tradition of hockey players and fans, started growing a playoff beard -- although he vowed to keep it trimmed.

And about 1,000 Penguins fans -- many wearing hockey sweaters, a few in business suits -- gathered in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse at noon Wednesday.

For the first time since 2001, the Penguins are back in the playoffs.

"We're gonna win the cup," said Jodie Chirico, 31, of Verona, holding a sign she made and standing on the edge of the courtyard fountain that was filled with floating, inflatable penguins.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato thanked Penguins co-owner and former player Mario Lemieux for working to keep the team in Pittsburgh with a new arena.

The team and public officials announced the agreement last month and celebrated the start of demolition Tuesday to make way for the Uptown building. It's scheduled to open in 2009.

The arena negotiation process "might have been ugly -- not pretty -- but the end result is that the Penguins will be right where they belong for at least the next 30 years," Onorato told the crowd.

Ted Black, the Penguins' vice president of business and legal affairs, handed out hockey sweaters to public officials and urged fans to move past the uncertainty that has surrounded the team off the ice for years.

"Today, we embrace a new era for the team," Black told the fans, saying they no longer had to worry about the Penguins declaring bankruptcy or relocating to another city.

Separately, team officials tried to arrange a meeting with Hill District residents and community leaders, but that session was put off until Onorato returns from a weeklong trade mission to China. He leaves Friday.


04-11-2007, 11:30 PM
Revved-up Senators shoot into playoff gear

Thursday, April 12, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- A freight train through your living room wouldn't have had much more of an impact than the Ottawa Senators had on the Penguins early in their playoff-opening game.

The Senators showed the inexperienced Penguins what playoff gear looks like -- it's several notches above drive and barely below a red-line situation -- and used that to score a couple of quick goals before piling it on in their 6-3 win last night at Scotiabank Place to take the lead in their first-round series.

"We did come out real strong," Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We got our forecheck going. We talked about that -- try to take the momentum right away, use the crowd, get them into it.

"We got some good chances right away, got the goal and never looked back."

Defenseman Andrej Meszaros took advantage of Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury's little stumble in the crease to open the scoring at 1:37 of the first period. Center Chris Kelly upped that to 2-0 at 6:38 when he slid the puck under Fleury.

"We set the tone, coming out hard," said Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery, who stopped 23 of 26 shots. "When we got a couple of goals, it set them on their heels."

That was the plan all along. It always is.

The Senators were a little surprised at how well it worked.

"I think we expected a close, tight series and a close, tight game," Emery said. "That's why we came out so hard.

"I don't think it's going to be like that every game, though."

For 12 of the Penguins, this was their first NHL playoff game. All but one of the Senators, defenseman Joseph Corvo, knew first-hand what the postseason is all about.

"I think we were really good early," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. "I don't think we were very nervous. We had lots of energy. I don't know if we can get out of the box like that every night, but we came out and displayed a lot of experience."

At every chance, and that includes many produced through tenacity, Ottawa whipped, slipped and tipped the puck toward Fleury.

The Senators led in shots, 29-12, after two periods and finished with a 37-26 advantage.

Alfredsson led the way with eight shots, all in the first two periods, as well as five that he launched but went wide of the net.

"We talked about throwing it at the net, try to get people in front. We did create a lot of chances," said Alfredsson, who didn't get a goal but had an assist and helped set the lightning pace early.

"We missed the net a lot," Murray said. "[The score] could have been a little more than it was."

Penguins coach Michel Therrien eventually was swayed to pull Fleury in favor of veteran backup Jocelyn Thibault about midway through the third period after the Senators got their sixth goal.

"We've got to be happy with this game, but they're going to adjust," Alfredsson said.

"They're going to look at the tapes. They've got two days. They're going to come out a different team on Saturday."

Before the game, Murray downplayed the importance of taking control of the series based on what happens in any particular game.

"I think every game's important," he said. "I don't know of any tones [that are set] or anything else. I think they're individual games."

After the Senators' dominating performance, that might not be the case. There could be some carryover.

"I think so," Emery said. "I think the first game of the series kind of sets the tone."


04-11-2007, 11:35 PM
Penguins Notebook: It's a new experience for most of team

Thursday, April 12, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- No fewer than 12 of the Penguins who dressed for Game 1 of their opening-round series against Ottawa last night were making their NHL playoff debuts.

Most acknowledged that they expected to be nervous as the opening faceoff approached, although no one appeared to be particularly tight during their game-day skate at Scotiabank Place.

"It felt like any other morning skate," said 18-year-old center Jordan Staal.

The Penguins are in the playoffs for the first time since 2001, but have several players who competed for the Stanley Cup more recently. That does not mean those guys were blase about the start of the postseason.

"I don't think you ever get used to it," said winger Jarkko Ruutu, who made 24 playoff appearances with Vancouver. "It really gets to you when the first game starts. Especially being in Canada, the hype and everything around it is unbelievable."

Defenseman Mark Eaton, who appeared in seven playoff games with Philadelphia and 11 with Nashville, described his feelings as "a good nervousness" that enhances the experience.

"It's the best time of the year, the most fun time," he said. "It's everything we play for."

Turning a deaf ear

Although Ottawa coach Bryan Murray tried to cast his team as the underdogs in Round 1 -- "I listen to lots of the observations and many, many people think that Pittsburgh [is] the team that's going to beat us, without a doubt," he told reporters Tuesday -- it seemed that a majority of observers predicted the Senators will win this series.

Those forecasts, Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said, didn't appear to have much of an impact on his teammates.

"I don't think we really care," he said. "We're more worried about what's going on in this locker room. We were 3-1 against them and we won twice [at Scotiabank Place].

"If people want to pick them, that's fine. When you pick that team, it just puts more pressure on them to win."

A goalie primer

Because the Penguins faced Ottawa goalie Ray Emery in the penultimate game of the regular season, they probably did not need much of a refresher on him before Game 1.

Nonetheless, Penguins goaltending coach Gilles Meloche put together a scouting report about Emery's strengths and flaws.

"We told them what we think his game is, how he plays," Meloche said. "Just the basics of his style and tendencies."

He also noted that about "half of this team has played [against Emery] for four or five years," mostly in the American Hockey League.

Meloche also reaffirmed his faith in Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has had a spotty record in high-stakes games the past few years.

"We've been talking about the playoffs for the last 10 days, tried to approach the last couple of [regular-season] games like playoff games," Meloche said. "Just to make sure he keeps his concentration and plays the way he's been playing."

No fundamental changes

Coach Michel Therrien entered Game 1 assuming he would have to make adjustments over the course of the evening. And, for that matter, the course of the series.

But he would not, Therrien said, be making fundamental revisions in the way his team plays.

"We're not going to start changing things because we're in the playoffs," he said. "Are we going to start changing our system, the way we play? No. We're going to play our own game. We're going to focus on us, to make sure we're successful."

Slap shots

The Penguins' healthy scratches were forwards Ronald Petrovicky, Nils Ekman and Chris Thorburn and defensemen Alain Nasreddine and Joel Kwiatkowski. ... Ottawa has won 11 Stanley Cups, but none since 1927. A celebrated member of that championship squad, King Clancy, coached the Pittsburgh Hornets to the Calder Cup championship in 1952.


04-11-2007, 11:38 PM
Ottawa Notebook: Goaltender has early memories of Penguins

Thursday, April 12, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- In the days leading up to the start of the playoffs, Senators goaltender Ray Emery told reporters his earliest memory of watching the playoffs was when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and '92.

Emery, 24, would have been 8 and 9 those springs.

Yesterday, Emery made it clear that doesn't mean he grew up in Hamilton, Ontario, as a Penguins fan.

"I was a Leaf fan," he said of Toronto. "I hated the Penguins, but my Leafs never made the playoffs."

The Penguins, with Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, were just the team to watch when it got to be May those years.

"I watched a bit," Emery said. "I think everyone did."

Emery did not find himself wanting to emulate the Penguins' Cup-winning goaltender.

"I wasn't a big Tom Barrasso fan, no," he said. "I liked my Leaf guys and I liked [Philadelphia's Ron] Hextall and a few other guys, but I wasn't a big Barrasso fan."

Hockey Night shut out

Some Canadian media outlets have raised a fuss because Game 2 of the Ottawa-Penguins series will start at 3:08 p.m. Saturday. That means it was set up for an NBC broadcast in the United States -- no doubt to showcase Penguins star Sidney Crosby -- and won't be on the highly popular "Hockey Night in Canada."

Ottawa is the only Canadian team in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Yesterday, according to the Halifax Daily News, the Nova Scotia provincial government got involved, sending NHL commissioner Gary Bettman a message saying the game should be in the evening on HNIC.

Crosby is from Nova Scotia.

Senators top-line center Jason Spezza grew up in Toronto watching HNIC like most kids, but he's not letting himself get caught up in the controversy.

"Whatever the schedule says, whatever the time, you've just got to show up," he said.

Spezza proves productive

Spezza had 87 points this season to tie for 15th in the NHL, but he played in only 67 games, so his average of 1.30 points a game was fifth-highest in the league among players who appeared in at least 60 games. The top four were the Penguins' Crosby (1.52), San Jose's Joe Thornton (1.39), Calgary's Jarome Iginla (1.34) and Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier (1.32).

Optional skating

Ottawa's morning skate was optional, and all but five players took part. Senators coach Bryan Murray said that's fairly typical. "There are guys that we don't want going on the ice, and they go out some days," Murray said. "I've tried to make, in the past month or thereabouts, it available if they want to."

Sign 'em up

Being in the playoffs has not kept the Senators from taking care of some business. General manager John Muckler announced that defenseman Chris Phillips has been signed to a four-year deal, reportedly worth about $14 million. Phillips, 29, had a career-high eight goals and 26 points in 82 games this season and tied for the second-most average ice time (22 minutes, 31 seconds a game).

Senators scratches

Ottawa scratched defenseman Lawrence Nycholat and wingers Brian McGrattan and Oleg Saprykin.

04-11-2007, 11:41 PM
Cook: Therrien's deflection of pressure deflates

Thursday, April 12, 2007
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Penguins coach Michel Therrien spent a significant portion of his time with the NHL media yesterday telling everybody how his young team wasn't expected to still be playing this late in April. It was a predictable, even logical, first volley in the inevitable gamesmanship that boils over in every Stanley Cup playoff series. Put the pressure on the Ottawa Senators, Therrien figured. They're the Stanley Cup contenders. They're also the team with a reputation of choking in the playoffs. Let them feel as if they have everything to lose.

Smart strategy, to be sure.

Too bad it blew up on Therrien.

His message seemed to resonate with the Penguins more than it did the Senators. His team went out for Game 1 last night and played as if it wanted to prove him right.

It played as if it doesn't belong in the playoffs.

The good news is the 6-3 rout was only one game. As Badger Bob Johnson once said so famously during a Penguins Stanley Cup run a lifetime ago, holding up three stubby fingers, "You can lose three games and still win the series."

The hope for the Penguins is that they learned something from this loss. Not the loss so much, but the playoff experience. It was the first for most of them, including all of the top stars.

It showed.

Boy, did it show.

"We definitely weren't ready to play at their level," Penguins veteran winger Mark Recchi said, clearly failing, at least in this game, in passing on his wisdom, honed by years of playoff experience and a couple of Stanley Cup titles, to his young teammates.

"Them playing the first game at home, you expect a storm. You have to try to quiet it down as much as you can. We didn't do a very good job of that."

Sidney Crosby is the world's best player, but he wasn't prepared for the Senators' intensity. He had a third-period goal disallowed because the officials ruled he kicked the puck into the net and he scored a meaningless power-play goal in the final minute, but he was mostly invisible.

"It's faster and more intense," Crosby said of playoff hockey.

Marc-Andre Fleury might win multiple Cup titles before his career is finished, but he couldn't have expected what the Senators threw at him at the start. It's fair to blame nerves for Fleury tripping over his goal post -- then his own skates -- and stumbling as defenseman Andrej Meszaros blew a routine slap shot by him 97 seconds into the game. Fleury, abandoned by his defense, ended up fishing five more pucks out of his net before Therrien pulled him for Jocelyn Thibault about midway through the third period, not as a sign of his displeasure with Fleury, but to put a merciful ending to the kid's evening. Although it's true what Crosby said -- "Fleury played great" -- that first goal set a lousy tone. If it didn't, the one scored by Chris Kelly five minutes later for a 2-0 Ottawa lead surely did.

"It seemed like they were always there, always coming back for more," Fleury said.

Evgeni Malkin? He did nothing. Nada. No shots.

Only Jordan Staal, among the Penguins' young kids, seemed unfazed in the playoff cauldron. He did superb work in helping the Penguins kill two lengthy five-on-three power plays. He also scored their first goal.

It was one of the few highlights.

"I think we got caught watching a little bit instead of trying to set the tone," Crosby said of the Penguins' horrendous start.

Added Recchi, "Now we know what to expect."

It will be interesting to see how the Penguins respond for Game 2 Saturday afternoon and beyond. If they really do buy into that nonsense Therrien was trying to sell the Senators and start believing that nothing is expected of them in the playoffs, that's exactly what they'll give on the ice.


The Penguins can't start believing that garbage that they have nothing to lose because they're such a young team. They matched the Senators point for point in the regular season. This series is there for them to win as much as it is for Ottawa.

One caveat, though:

If the Penguins start feeling as if they should be satisfied with their marvelous regular season, they'll have no chance. They'll also be doing themselves a serious disservice. Playoff appearances are too precious to be wasted.

"We didn't bring our best," Crosby said, agreeing with that logic. "If we threw everything at them and this was the result, we might be questioning ourselves. But that's not the case. We've got a lot more to show."

Game 2 would be a nice time to start.

The Penguins got their playoff nerves out of the way and were embarrassed in the process.

Now, it's time to play hockey.


04-12-2007, 06:57 AM
Losing like this was bound to happen. The Penguins are young and inexperienced. We'll get 'em back Saturday, though. Hold you heads up, guys.

04-12-2007, 07:33 AM
Losing like this was bound to happen. The Penguins are young and inexperienced. We'll get 'em back Saturday, though. Hold you heads up, guys.

Maybe, just maybe our youngs guns needed an arse whoopin' like last night's game to give them a taste of what the NHL playoffs are really like.

04-12-2007, 09:52 AM
Hopefully they can shake it off and get back in it. IMO Their puck handling looked horrible. I love hockey but I am no expert of the game by far.

04-12-2007, 12:44 PM
Well, last nights game was tough to watch. Its obvious that the team was nervous. They just need to settle down and play Penguin hockey and minimize the mistakes. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that we have the talent to get past the Senators in round 1.

I'm looking forward to Saturdays game now and see what changes were made to the strategy. I know the veterans (Recchi, Roberts & Gonchar) that have a lot of playoff experience will help get these young kids grounded and ready to play better on Saturday.

04-12-2007, 09:30 PM
Well, last nights game was tough to watch. Its obvious that the team was nervous. They just need to settle down and play Penguin hockey and minimize the mistakes. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that we have the talent to get past the Senators in round 1.

I'm looking forward to Saturdays game now and see what changes were made to the strategy. I know the veterans (Recchi, Roberts & Gonchar) that have a lot of playoff experience will help get these young kids grounded and ready to play better on Saturday.

Lets hope so...


04-12-2007, 11:12 PM
Pens hope resilience holds up in postseason

By Karen Price
Friday, April 13, 2007

OTTAWA - Throughout the regular season, the Penguins were pretty good at bouncing back from a bad game.

That resiliency, particularly during the second half of the season, had a lot to do with the 105 points they collected, their fifth-place standing in the Eastern Conference and their date with the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Now, after a 6-3 loss to the Senators in Game 1 on Wednesday, they'll have to prove they can do the same in the playoffs or else they'll hobble home with a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-7 series.

"We've lost games during the year pretty badly and bounced right back," defenseman Brooks Orpik said after practice Thursday at Scotiabank Place. "We've been resilient all year, so I don't see why that would change now."

But this isn't the regular season anymore, something that the Penguins learned the hard way Wednesday.

The Penguins lost 24 games in regulation during the 82-game season, and they never lost more than three in a row.

But when they did suffer a regulation loss, it wasn't unusual to see them follow it up with another regulation loss. They lost two games in a row seven times, including three times in the second half of the season.

"It's pretty simple. We have to prove that we're capable to bounce back in the playoffs," coach Michel Therrien said. "We did it during the regular season so let's prove that we're capable to have a good performance, and we'll see if we're going to win or lose. ... There's nothing wrong with facing adversity as long as you learn. We faced adversity (Wednesday) night. How are we going to react? We have to be sure we have the right attitude to bounce back after adversity. It's that simple."

Much was made before Game 1 about the Senators, not the Penguins, being the team with all the pressure.

But even though the Senators won the opening game in decisive fashion, Penguins center Sidney Crosby said they still don't necessarily feel pressure going into Game 2.

"I don't think our mind-set has changed," he said. "If we come (to Ottawa) and get one win out of two, I think we go home satisfied, so I think our focus is on playing strong this next one. We have to forget about the last game. We have to know that there are things we need to change and do better."

There were plenty of trips to the dry-erase board during yesterday's practice, which ran just shy of an hour.

In addition to being outscored, 6-3, and 6-1 before the Penguins managed two power-play goals in the final eight minutes of the game, the Penguins were outshot, 37-26, outhit, 36-28, (and it was much worse than that figure suggests), lost out on the faceoff battle and gave the puck away 14 times to the Senators' four.

But defenseman Rob Scuderi said he doesn't think anyone in the Penguins' dressing room is panicking.

"We thought they did a really good job but, at the same time, we thought there were a lot more things we could improve on in all facets, all zones, of the game," Scuderi said. "We're trying not to panic and just get back to playing our game and hopefully we'll bounce back in Game 2."

Orpik said the same thing.

"That's the best we're going to see out of them and the worst they're going to see out of us," he said. "Everyone came in (yesterday) with a smile on their face and just ready to go on Saturday. I don't think there's any intimidation here."


04-12-2007, 11:16 PM
Did Sens rub Pens wrong way?

By Joe Starkey
Friday, April 13, 2007


Workers must have arrived Thursday morning at Scotiabank Place wondering if they would have to pry Sergei Gonchar from the end boards.

Fortunately, Gonchar wasn't still embedded there -- but would you have blamed anyone for checking?

If you closed your eyes and listened, you could practically hear echoes of all the spine-rattling hits the Ottawa Senators dispensed a night earlier. Their 6-3 victory over the Penguins has folks ready to compare them to the Soviet Red Army.

Can they possibly be as good as they looked?

That question was one of several to emerge from the wreckage. A few others were addressed yesterday, after both teams practiced:

1. Did the Senators go out of their way to humiliate the Penguins in the third period by taking reckless runs at everyone in sight?

2. Where on earth was Georges Laraque?

Penguins coach Michel Therrien answered no to the first question, but defenseman Brooks Orpik absolutely believes it was the case. He says the Senators were taking cheap shots.

"A couple of their guys got carried away towards the end," Orpik said. "I mean, a couple of those guys ... they know no one's going to jump them because of the instigator penalty. A couple of them, like (Christoph) Schubert, he just runs around, leaves his feet.

"If they want to run guys like me and (Rob Scuderi) and Georges, guys who play physical, fine. But they're taking shots at (Evgeni) Malkin and Gonchar. If they're doing it in a clean way, hey, that's part of the game. But when guys are leaving their feet going after guys' heads, I think that's when guys have problems with it."

As well guys should. You wonder if this was a case of Senators coach Bryan Murray - who never met a playoff situation he couldn't mangle - not leaving well enough alone. His team was leading, 6-2, as the clock wound down. Maybe it was time to tame the dogs.

Or maybe that's crazy thinking.

I asked Gonchar if he thought the Senators were aiming for abject humiliation (well, not exactly in those words):

"Yes, but at the same time, it's normal for the playoffs," he said. "They didn't surprise me with that. Obviously, we don't appreciate it, but the best thing to do against that is put yourself in a position where you're winning."

As for Laraque, the impression here is that he was acquired to make his presence felt in situations where, say, the Penguins are losing big and a team is taking liberties with their best players.

If he's not going to fulfill that role, he shouldn't be on the ice. Add a little speed to the lineup with Ronald Petrovicky. Or get real crazy and insert Nils Ekman next to Sidney Crosby for a possible spark.

At the very least, Laraque should have thrown his weight around more, even if he did play only five minutes. Therrien obviously thought so, as became clear in the following exchange:

Reporter: "As physical as it was, would you have liked to see Laraque be more of a physical presence - or a presence - in that game?"

Therrien: "No doubt."

Reporter: "Why wasn't he?"

Therrien: "Ask him."

Remember what the Flyers did late in Game 2 of the 2000 playoffs, when it became clear the Penguins were going to take a two-games-to-none lead? They fought back. They created a scene - and won the next four games.

Laraque explained why he didn't initiate some sort of disturbance.

"It's not like the regular season, where you can afford to take a penalty, or guys will (fight) with you," he said. "That's why there's no fighting. The only way to respond is by being physical against their players, too. But for that to happen, we have to be playing more 5-on-5."

Actually, he could have taken a penalty - even an instigator - at that point. The big guy apparently needs a refresher course in how to protect and serve, rather than neglect and swerve.

In any case, the Senators sure left the Penguins with something to chew on.

"It's something we can definitely carry over to the next game," Orpik said.

It'll be mighty interesting to see how they respond.


04-12-2007, 11:18 PM
Pens' Therrien supports Fleury

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, April 13, 2007

Coach Michel Therrien reiterated Thursday that he believed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury played well in the Penguins' 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 on Wednesday, and that he only pulled him with 10 minutes left in the game to give him a break.

"Thank God for him because it could have been worse," Therrien said. "You could tell both goalies were nervous early in the game, but Marc-Andre really settled down and gave us a chance to stay in the game. The players in front of him didn't give him a real chance to win."

? Therrien wasn't the only one who said that the rest of the team didn't give Fleury enough help.

"We have to take that upon ourselves to make sure we help our goalie out," Sidney Crosby said. "He was battling hard in there. There's no fault to our goalie at all. I guess as players we have to make sure in front of him we do a better job."

? Because of an Il Divo concert at Scotiabank Place tonight, the Penguins have two days in between Games 1 and 2. So is that a good or bad thing, given the loss in Game 1?

"I don't know. Ask me that after Saturday," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "I know me personally, I like to come right back and play after a loss. But it gives guys a chance to recover from injuries, and some guys are banged up so rest is never a bad thing."

? Therrien has a policy of never talking to his players immediately after a game, and he stuck by that after Wednesday's clobbering.

"It's an emotional game," Therrien said. "It's a good thing I didn't talk to the team (Wednesday)."


5 - shots by defenseman Sergei Gonchar in Game 1 to lead the team.

9 - Shifts for winger Georges Laraque in Game 1, fewest on the team.


04-12-2007, 11:29 PM
Ottawa's game-plan focuses on disrupting defensemen

By Rob Rossi
Friday, April 13, 2007

OTTAWA - Sergei Gonchar knew what to expect from the Senators in Game 1 of the Penguins' Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series: Hits -- and a lot of them.

"It's nothing new," Gonchar said of the in-your-face approach Ottawa forwards used to disrupt the Penguins' puck movement from their defensemen. "It's a playoff game. The hitting picks up. You have to be ready for it."

Throughout the course of a 6-3 loss to the Senators on Wednesday, the Penguins' defensemen proved anything but ready for the relentlessness with which Ottawa's forwards attacked.

Josef Melichar, Mark Eaton, Robert Scuderi and Ryan Whitney were charged with nine giveaways. As a team, the Senators committed just four -- only one from a defenseman.

"They have some good offensive defensemen. Whitney and Gonchar both see the ice very well and play a lot," Ottawa center Mike Fisher said. "Both of those guys can move the puck and shoot it well, so..."

Speaking after his club's morning practice session Thursday, Fisher paused.

"You have to approach them like we did in the first game," Fisher said. "You have to be physical right away."

From the drop of the puck for Game 1, Fisher and the likes of center Mike Comrie, left wing Peter Schaefer and even captain Daniel Alfredsson made a habit of hurting the Penguins' defensemen the old-fashioned way. Ottawa recorded 36 hits -- 19 from its forwards.

The series opener started with Ottawa forwards landing body blows and concluded with them delivering near knockout shots. In fact, Comrie was such a brute force that Ottawa coach Bryan Murray excused him from yesterday's practice.

"It's important to play with some intensity and bring the physical aspect, too," Ottawa center Antoine Vermette said. "When you have a chance to finish a check against one of these guys, you have to take it."

Such was the Senators' plan for dealing with Gonchar and Whitney, who finished the regular season as the second- and sixth-highest scoring defensemen in the league.

"One way to prevent them from hurting us that way is by finishing our checks," Ottawa center Chris Kelly said. "Every team that wants to go far in the playoffs has to be committed to doing things like that and wearing opponents down."

Ten minutes into the series opener, the Penguins' defense seemed as though it was worn into submission.

The question is: Were they?

Whitney scoffed at any such suggestion.

"We can take getting hit," he said. "If we can move (the puck) and then take a hit, it's not a big deal. But if we get hit before we move the puck, then it becomes a problem because we're caught in our own zone.

"Really, it's just about moving the puck quicker."

If nothing else, the ferociousness of Ottawa's forwards has caught the attention of the Penguins' defensemen -- and Vermette, for one, could not be more pleased.

"If they were rattled, that's good. That is what we want," Vermette said. "We want to take time out of their hands as much as possible. We need to be on top of those guys as quick as we can. Being physical, we think, should do it."


04-12-2007, 11:33 PM
Senators' Neil plays big in Game 1

By The Tribune-Review
Friday, April 13, 2007

With thee hits, a plus-2 rating, a goal and an assist in Game 1, right wing Chris Neil proved invaluable to the Senators. To hear coach Bryan Murray tell it, Neil, a fifth-year veteran, has come a long way since the Senators drafted him in the sixth round in 1998.

"A lot of the year I played him on the second line, so he plays and has an impact in the game," Murray said of Neil, who scored 12 goals this season. "I remember Marty McSorley came into the league and could hardly play. A little while later, he was a pretty good player. Chris Neil is someone like that."

Against the Penguins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal opener, Neil was nearly a one-man wrecking crew.

"It was a typical Chris Neil game," Murray said. "He was very confident with the puck. He was real strong on the break. If we can keep him playing at that level he is a real productive player."

? Murray said he expected the two-day break between Games 1 and 2 to help the Penguins. "They will come out knowing full well that right from the drop of the puck (Saturday) they have to do what they do best, which is skate and move the puck," Murray said. "We know that. It's a complete different scenario because you have two days now to refocus."

? Right wing Dany Heatley scored a goal in Game 1 against the Penguins -- not entirely unexpected considering he tallied 50 during the regular season. What did prove impressive, to Heatley, was that 13 Ottawa players recorded a point in the series opener.

"(Balance) is huge for us," Heatley said. "The reason why we were so successful (the last three months of the regular season) is that we got contributions from everybody. It's a huge help."


.250 - Senators' playoff winning percentage when allowing the first goal

12 - Players on the current Senators roster originally drafted by Ottawa


04-12-2007, 11:37 PM
Penguins Notebook: Game 1 was minor flashback

Friday, April 13, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- The Penguins' 6-3 loss to Ottawa Wednesday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series wasn't just a nightmare for many of the players.

It was a flashback.

Not just because so many of the Senators were part of the American Hockey League team based in Binghamton, N.Y., that faced the Penguins' minor-league team in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs in 2005, but because of the way the Baby Senators dominated Game 1 en route to a 5-2 victory that year.

Minutes after the game Wednesday, Penguins forward Erik Christensen, a Wilkes-Barre alum, volunteered that "it felt exactly the same," and other guys who were part of that club agreed.

"It definitely does," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "They gave it to us pretty good in the first game, were all over us in every single zone. [Wednesday] definitely reminded me of that."

Game 2 in 2005 wasn't much better, as Binghamton -- fortified by guys such as Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette who would have been in Ottawa if not for the NHL lockout -- went on to win, 4-2.

At that point, the Baby Senators had a 2-0 lead. And were on the cusp of a four-game losing streak.

Wilkes-Barre won Game 3, 3-2, on a Colby Armstrong goal in triple overtime, then took Game 4, 2-0.

"We regrouped and came back hard," right winger Michel Ouellet said.

And the Baby Penguins didn't let up. They won Game 5 in Binghamton, 3-2, then closed out the series with a 2-1 victory at home.

That gave them a spot in Round 2 and reinforced a mathematical reality that might serve them well in coming days.

"You need four wins to win the series," Ouellet said. "Until you have four wins, you can't go to the second round."

Plugged in

Ottawa's victory in the opener introduced many of the Penguins to the high-intensity realities of Stanley Cup hockey and forced the Penguins to focus on rebounding from that humbling defeat.

That does not mean they are oblivious to the rest of the world, though, and that includes the NHL's other seven playoff series. Pretty much to a man, the Penguins seem intent on keeping track of what is going on around the league.

"It's important to keep our focus on what we're doing, but, at the same time, I'm still a fan of the game, and these are the Stanley Cup playoffs," Christensen said. "I'm still going to be watching other teams."

He cited the Detroit-Calgary series that began last night as one in which he is particularly interested -- "I like watching Detroit a lot, and Calgary has a good team, too," he said -- and defenseman Ryan Whitney pointed to that matchup as having particular appeal, too.

The other matchup between Nos. 1 and 8 seeds, Buffalo against the New York Islanders, apparently has an audience among the Penguins, too.

Center Maxime Talbot said he will be paying close attention because his best friend, New York defenseman Bruno Gervais, is involved, but forward Ryan Malone will tune in simply because he believes the series could be competitive.

Love those playoffs

Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu's old team, Vancouver, needed four overtimes to defeat Dallas in its first-round opener early yesterday morning. The game was televised in Canada, but Ruutu acknowledged yesterday that he had not seen it all. And he seemed almost wistful that he could not take part in a game like that.

"I saw two overtimes," he said. "That's what the playoffs are all about. Play until you win the game."


04-12-2007, 11:41 PM
Faster start mandatory, not optional for Game 2

Therrien will throw Fleury back into fire

Friday, April 13, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- The Penguins held a practice at Scotiabank Place yesterday afternoon.

Attendance was mandatory.

The early part of it, anyway. The part when the outcome of Ottawa's 6-3 victory in Game 1 of this first-round playoff series became everything but official.

Simply put, by the time the Penguins seemed to grasp the game had begun, it was pretty much over.

"We sat back and tried to feel it out," center Sidney Crosby said yesterday. "And, by that time, they had scored two goals. We have to make sure we try to play our game right away."

They'll get that opportunity tomorrow, when they face the Senators in Game 2 here at 3:08 p.m.

Whether coach Michel Therrien will reconfigure his lineup for that game is not clear, but Marc-Andre Fleury will be back in goal.

He stopped 30 of 36 shots before being pulled midway through the third period in Game 1 -- "I saw a lot of shots [Wednesday] night in my sleep," Fleury said, with a grim smile -- but Therrien and his teammates absolved him of major responsibility for the defeat, even though Fleury said flatly that, "I know I can do better."

He has a point, and the same applies to most of his teammates. Which is a big part of the reason the Penguins have remained optimistic about how this series will play out -- and that's without anyone pointing out that Ottawa never has won the first two games of a playoff series.

"If we had played our best game and they still gave it to us like that, I think we might be a little worried," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "But I don't think we were very close to what we can do."

They better hope not, because the Penguins weren't much more than props in a Senators highlights film for most of the first two periods. From a Penguins perspective, it was scarier than anything Wes Craven could dream of producing.

"We did a lot of things which we're not supposed to do," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said.

Yeah, like watching Senators skate by them, get possession of nearly every loose puck and launch one high-percentage shot after another at Fleury.

It's a tribute to the conditioning of Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson that he did not do season-ending damage to his right shoulder, considering the volume and velocity of pucks he hammered toward the Penguins' net. He was credited with eight, but that doesn't count the many that were blocked or went wide.

About the only thing the Penguins did well was to kill 5-on-3 power plays. The Senators had two for a total of 3 minutes, 34 seconds and never came particularly close to scoring.

Unfortunately for the Penguins, their penalties expired eventually, and they had to go back to playing at full strength. Which was usually when it looked as if Ottawa had a couple of extra guys on the ice.

"That was a bad day," Therrien said. "And bad days happen."

True enough, but they don't often happen more than once to teams intent on measuring their stay in the playoffs by anything larger than hours.

There obviously was little about Game 1 for the Penguins to like, except that it's over and they apparently got through it without a significant injury. Still, they don't seem overly concerned about the possibility of a sequel tomorrow.

"I don't think there's any panic in this room," defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

Nor is there any indication that, impressive as the Senators were in the opener, the Penguins are intimidated by their skating, skill or anything else.

They do -- and should -- respect what Ottawa can do. That doesn't mean they fear it.

"As soon as you let it overwhelm you, that's the time that it's probably over," Scuderi said. "Then you start playing tentative, and you're not worried about what you're doing."

And the Penguins had lots to worry about in the wake of their performance in Game 1. Like how they were outshot, 9-2, during the first seven minutes, and 29-12 the first two periods.

"Our execution was not there," Therrien said. "It's pretty simple."

So is the math: Lose tomorrow, and the Penguins will have to win four out of five to keep their season alive against a team that matched their regular-season point production.

"We're all capable of playing better," Therrien said. "And I'm expecting that we're going to be better in the next game."

Good idea, because that won't be optional, either.


04-12-2007, 11:44 PM
Winger Neil fits bill for Senators

Friday, April 13, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Ask a casual fan what the typical hockey player looks like, and they are apt to describe Chris Neil.

Square jaw. An even more square body. Think Barney Rubble with no front teeth.

Neil, a 27-year-old winger with Ottawa, has some stats to match the look. He led the NHL in hits this season with 288 (3.51 a game) and is approaching 1,000 penalty minutes through five seasons.

That's where Neil stops being typical.

He is a square peg in a round hole, a tough guy whose role is multidimensional.

Neil showed that Wednesday night when he got a goal and an assist -- not to mention three hits -- in Ottawa's 6-3 win against the Penguins in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

It was a night when the Senators' big three -- linemates Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson -- each had a point but were among 13 players who had at least one.

"That's the real reason why we won, 6-3, because everybody chipped in," Spezza said yesterday after Ottawa practiced at Scotiabank Place in preparation for Game 2 tomorrow.

"It wasn't a game where me, [Heatley] and Alfie had to score four or five goals to give us a chance to win. It was one of those nights where everybody was going. That's why it wasn't a closer game."

Neil's assist came in the first period when Chris Kelly gave the Senators a 2-0 lead that had the Penguins reeling. His goal came on a third-period 2-on-1 breakaway with Antoine Vermette and closed out the scoring.

"It was a typical Chris Neil game, I think -- strong guy, quick now," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. "He wasn't that way a few years back.

"He's very confident with the puck. He's a very physical player. Likes to hit people. He's a real strong guy. If he keeps playing at that level -- which I don't think for him will be very hard to do -- he's a real productive player."

Neil said it was Murray, the second-year Senators coach, who let him skate beyond the tough-guy mold.

Under Murray, Neil, 6 feet and 209 pounds, takes a regular shift on the third and sometimes second line.

He played in all 82 regular-season games. He had 12 goals and 28 points this season, giving him 104 points in 383 career games. Three of his 12 goals were winners.

"Some coaches have it in their mind that you're a tough guy and that's all you can do, but, for the most part, a lot of tough guys can play in this league," Neil said.

"I've gotten a better opportunity the last couple of years to play, and that's half the battle. If you get an opportunity, you've got to roll with it. Good things happen when you work hard."

While Neil is happy to chip in on offense, he hardly is looking to nudge someone off of Ottawa's top line, the three players who led the team in scoring this season. He figures when he and others do their part, they are setting the table for Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson.

"We've got four lines that we've been able to roll," Neil said. "That saves your top line, keeps them fresher out there. That helps out a lot."

It's appreciated.

"That's huge for us," Heatley said. "The reason why we were so successful this season, and the last few months especially, was that we were getting scoring from everybody. [Wednesday] night was a good indication of that."

For the most part, it's not goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury but the Penguins' skaters who might want to brace themselves for Neil the rest of the series.

He's likely to finish with a lot more hits than points.

"I think it's going to be a physical series," Neil said. "They've got a bunch of guys who run around and make a lot of hits. So do we."

Additional points will be a bonus.

"It's great to see him score a playoff goal," Spezza said of Neil. "He plays hard for us. He really makes our physical game go."


04-12-2007, 11:47 PM
Senators Notebook: History suggests it's no time to crow

Friday, April 13, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Many of the Ottawa players and coaches wound down after Game 1 of their series with the Penguins Wednesday night by watching the Dallas-Vancouver game, but most. if not all missed the wee-hours ending.

The Canucks won, 4-3, in the fourth overtime.

"I got to two overtimes, and that was it. I feel asleep," said Senators center Jason Spezza.

Spezza knows how such a long game can affect teams, especially those that lose in marathons.

He played for Binghamton, Ottawa's minor-league club, during the 2004-05 NHL lockout season. Binghamton, with eight current Senators, faced Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with eight current Penguins, in the American Hockey League playoffs that spring. Game 3 went to a fourth overtime.

"We were up in the series, 2-0, and we lost [3-2] to make it 2-1," Spezza said. "We only had two lines because we had an injury. We were exhausted the next night, and they beat us. Then, we were junk in Game 5. That was the turning point in the series."

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won the series, 4-2.

Game 2 nightmares

Ottawa has never led a series, 2-0, because of an 0-6 record in Game 2 after the Senators win the opening game of a series.

"I just found that out [yesterday] morning," winger Dany Heatley said. "Whatever. That's a great stat for [reporters]. We don't care about that. We just want to come out [tomorrow] and play like we did early on [Wednesday] night."

Two-man edge no advantage

Ottawa did not have a lot of trouble dispatching the Penguins, 6-3, in Game 1, but the Senators could have made things more decisive if they had been able to score on two 5-on-3 advantages in the first period after they had a 2-0 lead.

"We just played too far from the bottom man on the 5 on 3, that was all," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. "We'll make an adjustment, and, hopefully, we'll get a few more chances to prove what we can do."

Comrie misses practice

Winger Mike Comrie, who scored the Senators' sixth goal in Game 1, was the only member of his team who did not practice yesterday.

"Mike's fine," Murray said. "I gave him the morning off. He's bumped up a little bit."

Slap shots

Murray said he didn't know what Ottawa's bench penalty with 38 seconds left in Game 1 was for because he was first told it was for a Senators player on the bench grabbing a Penguins player, but it was reported as unsportsmanlike conduct for abusive language toward an official from someone on the bench. Murray said he didn't think the Senators were guilty of either. ... Although Game 1 was a sellout at Scotiabank Place and Game 2 tomorrow afternoon likely will be, there were 1,000 tickets left Wednesday morning for the series opener and 300 for Game 2. By yesterday, there were 200 left for tomorrow. ... Scotiabank Place construction began July 7, 1994, and the Senators opened it Jan. 17, 1996. That's a faster pace by several months than the Penguins and Pittsburgh expect for the new facility that will be built across the street from Mellon Arena.


04-13-2007, 11:03 PM
Malkin tries to adjust heat from Senators

Saturday, April 14, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Evgeni Malkin has been in playoffs before and figured he knew what it is like to chase a championship at this time of year.

But nothing in the Russian Super League prepared Malkin for what he experienced in the Penguins' 6-3 loss to Ottawa in Game 1 of their opening-round series Wednesday.

The pace was faster, the hitting harder, the passions higher than anything he remembered from his days with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

"He said playoff intensity in Russia does not go as high as it is here," said Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, Malkin's friend, countryman and landlord. "He'll probably need some adjustment."

No problem. The Penguins surely will be happy to give Malkin all the time he needs to get acclimated. As long as the process is complete by the time Game 2 begins at 3:08 p.m. today at Scotiabank Place, that is.

For while nearly everyone in their lineup will have to significantly upgrade his game if the Penguins are to have a reasonable chance to even the series this afternoon, Malkin can raise his more than most.

Not only because he was such a non-factor for most of Game 1 -- he had a few spasms of brilliance, and long stretches when he was flatter than a shadow -- but because the ceiling on his game is so much higher than it is for most players.

"He's got all the right tools," linemate Ryan Malone said.

Malkin proved that during the regular season, when he was the top scorer among NHL rookies with 33 goals and 52 assists in 78 games.

Even so, the NHL grind seemed to wear him down. Consider that in his first 27 games in the league, Malkin had 10 with two or more points, but in the final 27, he managed just five.

That's compelling evidence that Malkin had gotten accustomed to the Super League's 52-game schedule.

"You always have a couple days between games," Gonchar said. "So it's easy to recover."

The Penguins have had two days since Game 1, and can only hope that has been enough time for Malkin to recover from his showing in the opener. He skated sluggishly, overhandled the puck, failed to record a shot on goal and went 2-16 on faceoffs.

"He didn't have his best game, and he wasn't doing the type of things you have to do at this time of year," assistant coach Mike Yeo said. "But neither was anybody else."

It remains to be seen if coach Michel Therrien will try to jump-start Malkin's game by doing something radical, such as taking him from between Malone and Mark Recchi and reuniting him with Sidney Crosby. That's a move Senators coach Bryan Murray joked that "I'm not going to encourage."

The Penguins, it should be noted, are grateful just to have the option of using those two together because Therrien believes a suspect hit by Ottawa's Christoph Schubert early in the second period could have damaged Malkin's left knee and ended his season.

"That could have been a big-time injury," Therrien said. "He could have been out of the series."

Ottawa appeared to make a point of hitting Malkin at every opportunity during Game 1, although defenseman Andrej Mezsaros insisted yesterday that Malkin was not singled out because "we want to hit everybody."

The statistics back that up -- Ottawa was credited with 36 hits in the opener -- although the Penguins expect the Senators to put a particular bull's-eye on impact players such as Malkin.

"They're going to target our top guys, and we're going to target their top guys," Yeo said. "If we have a chance to bang Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley, we want to do the same thing.

"Obviously, that's something they're going to try to target, and they're going to see how he responds to it. It's up to him to prove he can play in those types of games. People won't target him as much if he comes back and plays a strong game."

Therrien appears to be expecting nothing less today.

"He'll be fine," Therrien said. "Those types of players always find a way to get success."

There's not much dispute about that. The question is whether Malkin can do it in time to have a positive impact on this series.Gonchar, for one, believes he can. And will.

"It's just a matter of him adjusting," Gonchar said. "When you're young and you have a lot of expectations, it's probably not that easy. But, at the same time, I think he's capable of it."


04-13-2007, 11:05 PM
Penguins Notebook: Back-to-back games don't alarm players

Saturday, April 14, 2007
By Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- The Penguins have plenty of things to fret about as Game 2 of their playoff series against Ottawa approaches, but being forced to switch cities and play another game a little more than 24 hours later does not seem to be on the list.

Game 2 at Scotiabank Place is 3:08 p.m. today; Game 3 will be at 6:08 p.m. tomorrow at Mellon Arena.

Playing on consecutive days in the playoffs is unusual -- in this case, it is a by-product of the Penguins' popularity with TV networks -- but hardly unprecedented. And, from the Penguins' perspective, not an issue.

"I don't think it really matters," winger Jarkko Ruutu said. "You play games throughout the year, and it's the same for the other team."

That might be the key, in this case. During the regular season, a team playing back-to-back games often faces a rested opponent in the second one. That won't happen tomorrow.

What's more, regardless of the outcome today, making their playoff debut at Mellon Arena figures to give the Penguins an emotional lift that should make fatigue less of a factor.

"It's going to be our first game at home, so [a shortage of] adrenaline and energy isn't going to be a factor," defenseman Ryan Whitney said. "We know we're going to have that. I don't think anyone's too worried."

[B]Not tipping his hand

The status quo prevailed during the Penguins' hour-long workout at the Senators' practice rink yesterday -- the line combinations and defense pairings were the same as they had been in the Penguins' series-opening, 6-3 loss Wednesday -- but that could change by this afternoon.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien could decide to reconfigure his forward units -- perhaps fine-tuning them a bit, perhaps trying something bold -- or add someone such as winger Ronald Petrovicky to the lineup. And there's always a chance he might settle for a few tactical tweakings.

"I'm not going to tell you the adjustments I'm going to do," Therrien said. "We'll see."

He acknowledged, though, that in the playoffs, coaches can't usually stick with lines that don't produce.

"This is where you have to coach," he said. "You have to [make] decisions. You have to find a way to win games. This is where you have to change your lines sometimes. You can't be stubborn."

It's out of their control

Ottawa's inability to take a 2-0 lead in any series during the first nine playoff runs in franchise history has gotten a lot of attention, but the significance of that stat was downplayed rather emphatically yesterday.

Not by a Senators player or executive, but by Therrien.

"You can't control the past," he said. "I don't think there's any extra pressure [on Ottawa, stemming from that]."

Staal makes big impression

Rookie center Jordan Staal, who got the Penguins' first goal Wednesday, fared better in the opener than many more experienced teammates, although he was on the ice for one of the Senators' even-strength goals and both on the power play.

"He doesn't stop amazing me, amazing his teammates," Therrien said. "He amazes a lot of people. ... It's pretty scary to see a young kid like that, coming off a tremendous season in his first year, the way he handled himself in his first playoff game in the NHL. We've got a player there."

Slap shots

The Penguins have won Game 2 in seven of their past eight playoff series. The exception came in Round 2 in 1999, when they were beaten in Toronto, 4-2. ... Crosby, on the theory that a youth-oriented team like his must get knocked out of the playoffs a few times in order to learn to win: "You can learn just as quickly winning as you can losing."


04-13-2007, 11:06 PM
Senators aim for fast start again

Saturday, April 14, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- Fast and furious earned the Ottawa Senators a win in Game 1 of their opening-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the Penguins. It's possible that pace could serve them well again in Game 2 today.

Between games, the Senators have deliberately slowed things. They have been careful not to get ahead of themselves.

"We've got to make sure that we're better and ready and not too loose just because we won one game," center Mike Fisher said. "That doesn't win the series."

It takes four victories to do that.

To get to the quarter pole, the Senators used their torrid early pace to take a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes on their way to a 6-3 win.

A repeat would be nice, they said, but no amount of preparation or hopeful thinking can guarantee that. Perhaps, it will be the Penguins whose skates grow wings for this game.

"I think every game's going to be different in this series," Ottawa winger Dany Heatley said. "You might see a very low-scoring game. You might see a game where it opens up. Both teams have great firepower, and both teams play solid defensively."

And all or none of that could shine through today.

A win and a 2-0 series lead going into Game 3 tomorrow at Mellon Arena coupled with the early domination in the opening game could swing things decisively toward the Senators, who have much more playoff experience than most of the Penguins.

"Well, [that could happen] if we work like we did [Wednesday] night. Those are always the qualifiers in hockey," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "Emotion is a big part of it. Confidence is a big part of it. Experience certainly is part of it. If we can continue to work at a high level, then I think we can do some good things."

Despite the Penguins' youth, inexperience and status as something of the Cinderella at this ball, Ottawa expects NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby and others to awaken at some point.

That would make a rerun of Game 1 nearly impossible.

"We're not thinking about Game 1 anymore," winger Mike Comrie said. "They're going to come out hard, and we've got to come out the same way we did last game."

Murray has seemed cool and confident since Game 1, but he is not making any predictions about any of the remaining games.

In fact, he practically concedes it won't end in a sweep.

"Their coaching staff is going to make some adjustments and going to talk to them a great deal, and I think they'll come out knowing full well that they have to, right from the drop of the puck, do what they do best, and that is skate and move the puck," Murray said. "And they've had two days to refocus.

"It's one [win so far] only. We're playing at home, and there's an advantage to playing at home. So we'll talk about getting ready for a single game [today] and just to play accordingly. We know it's going to take some games to win this series. We hope we're the one that lasts the longest and wins."

A split in the first two road games of a series would be more than acceptable for most teams as they head home to play host to two games.

The Senators are careful not to turn that around and make this the pivotal meeting in the series.

"We can't say that it's a must-win at this point," defenseman Chris Phillips said. "We just have to play the same style of game, limit any mistakes that we made, tinker with a few things. Then, the results will take care of themselves."

And then do it again about 24 hours later and after both teams travel to Pittsburgh.

"The biggest thing I've learned is to take every game as a singular game," Ottawa center Jason Spezza said.

"If you win, you've got to be happy about it, but you have to leave it, and if you lose, you can't let it be the end of the world because you have to lose four games to lose a series.

"If you let up a little bit, teams can come back and you can lose your focus. They're long series. It's not easy to do."

In the meantime, Murray and crew no doubt have a few things up their sleeves for Game 2, regardless of whether the Senators can come out flying again.

After all, just because things went well for the Senators in Game 1 doesn't mean they won't be refining and looking for improvement.

And those would be?

"Oh, I can't tell you that," Murray said. "I'm not coaching Pittsburgh. I'm coaching Ottawa. I'll just keep that to myself."

Until this afternoon.


04-13-2007, 11:10 PM
Ottawa Notebook: Unusual schedule no problem for Ottawa

Saturday, April 14, 2007
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

OTTAWA -- It used to be that teams in the NHL playoffs had games every other night pretty steadily. Now, with television dictating things to a large extent, some teams find themselves in the situation of the Ottawa Senators.

That would be two days off at home between playoff games against the Penguins.

For them, that didn't signal party time.

"We're here for a reason." center Mike Comrie said. "We're professionals in the playoffs. We know what to do to get ready."

The players didn't get directives from the Ottawa staff about their down time.

"These guys are a very professional group," coach Bryan Murray said. "That's the one thing I've found about the group, in the latter part of the year in particular. We ask them to do certain things on and off the ice. I don't follow them around at night. I don't ask them to do certain things curfew-wise. I don't want that.

"But we've asked them to be pro about this and give themselves a chance."

That means taking it easy when they haven't been going through their daily workouts.

"It was a hard-fought game, a pretty physical game," defenseman Chris Phillips said of Game 1. "This gives us an extra day of rest."

Let's talk it over

There were 22 penalties in Game 1, 13 of those against Ottawa, including eight in the third period.

Murray didn't gripe after his team's 6-3 win, at least not publicly, but he asked for a review. He said the Penguins did the same, with coach Michel Therrien apparently having a meeting with NHL supervisors before practice Thursday.

"I had -- and the Pittsburgh people had -- a meeting with the supervisors," Murray said. "There were a couple of calls in the game that probably in a playoff game wouldn't normally be called for both teams."

Murray is putting some of the burden on his players to live up to the new rules and the crackdown on the existing ones that have been in place since before the 2005-06 season.

"Everybody knows the rules now," he said. "There's no need for not being in position to defend properly. Sometimes around the net, you have no choice but to put a stick on a guy to fend him off if there's a scoring chance. But to the blue line and through the neutral zone, even on the forecheck, in particular, there's no need now to take a penalty. You just have to let the guy go because you can't put a stick on him.

"And there's no need to punch a guy back because [when you retaliate], you're the guy who's going to get caught."

The answer is clear

Murray was asked if there is any scenario in which he would like to see 4-on-4 play or a shootout in the playoffs. His answer left no wiggle room.


A harder sell

With its capacity of 19,153, Scotiabank Place has about 2,000 more seats than the Penguins' Mellon Arena. Still, the Senators haven't had ticket sales as brisk as the Penguins.

Game 1 became a sellout on game day. As of yesterday morning, there were about 50 tickets left for today. The Penguins have had no trouble selling out tickets for their first three home playoff games.

Concert takes precedence

Although Game 2 was scheduled for today with two days off between games primarily for television, it could not have been played last night.

The arena was otherwise occupied -- pushing the teams to skate at the Senators' nearby Sensplex practice facility yesterday morning -- because of an Il Divo concert there last night.

Il Divo is a popular international operatic/pop quartet put together by Simon Cowell of "American Idol" fame, but to many Ottawa players, the singing group was just a playoff obstacle.

Defenseman Chris Phillips had never heard of Il Divo.

"I don't know who they are, but I've learned because we're practicing over at the other rink," Comrie said.

Winger Daniel Alfredsson came the closest.

"I've heard that they're some Spanish guys singing and dancing," he said.


04-13-2007, 11:11 PM
Pens' Crosby hits road block at Ottawa

By Karen Price
Saturday, April 14, 2007

OTTAWA - This playoff series is not Sidney Crosby against the Ottawa Senators.

Because of that, Penguins coach Michel Therrien is miffed at all the focus being placed on the 19-year-old center.

"That's got to stop a little bit," Therrien said Friday, when asked if Crosby needs to do something different heading into today's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series at Scotiabank Place. "For us as a team, we have to play a better game, and we will."

Still, there is no denying the Penguins need Crosby to produce in order to win a seven-game series, or that the Senators have been good at shutting him down over the course of his young career.

Crosby had one apparent goal called back and scored one that actually counted in the third period of Wednesday's 6-3 loss. The disallowed goal happened seconds after the Senators' fourth goal, and his power-play goal came in the final minute of the game.

In the four regular-season meetings between the two teams this year, Crosby was limited to one goal and three assists, all on the power play, and was a minus-4, tied with Nils Ekman for the worst on the team.

In seven career games against the Senators coming into the playoff series, Crosby had only one goal and four assists. Of the 10 Eastern Conference teams outside of the Atlantic Division, he has the fewest career points against the Senators.

Part of the reason why the Senators are the opposite of the Philadelphia Flyers (against which Crosby has 30 points in 16 career games) is the defensive pairing of Chris Phillips, the nine-year veteran and No. 1 overall pick in 1996, and Anton Volchenkov, a four-year veteran and another first-round pick (21st overall) from 2000.

"I've played against (the Senators) for a couple years now where it was either them or (current Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno) Chara," Crosby said. "It's not something that I go into a game and think about a whole lot. I play against tough defensemen all year. They're a good pairing, there's no doubt. You can't take anything away from them. But that's part of hockey is going against challenges like that."

The challenge is especially great in Ottawa, where Senators coach Bryan Murray can dictate pairings and matchups.

But playing against the opponent's top defensive pairing and top forward lines is nothing new to Crosby, who's been drawing such matchups for as long as he's been playing hockey.

So do the Senators do something different against Crosby, or do they just do the job better than most?

"A little bit of both," Penguins radio commentator Phil Bourque said. "Obviously, Volchenkov and Phillips are talented guys, and they're mobile guys, so they can skate with Sid. The biggest difference that I see right now - and it's going to be hard for them to maintain it throughout the series - is limiting his time and space. They have a very tight gap up against him, so it makes it difficult for him to generate speed. And when he has full speed, I don't care who you are, I don't know if you can defend against him.

"He'll find ways. Maybe he has to come in a little deeper into his own zone so there's a bigger gap between him and the defensemen. That will hopefully give him the ability to build up more speed as he enters the Ottawa zone."

The Penguins were 3-1 against the Senators in the regular season this year, with two shootout wins. They were 0-4-0 against them last season.

Crosby said the fun part is adjusting and making plays against big, physical defensemen.

"At the end of the night, it's rewarding if you're able to create things and help your team win, especially when you're getting tested like that," he said. "They're out there doing their job, and as an offensive player, you have to try and go out there and do yours."


04-13-2007, 11:13 PM
Crunch time in Malkin?s marathon

By Joe Starkey
Saturday, April 14, 2007


Nobody on the Ottawa Senators hit Evgeni Malkin like the wall he ran into about two months ago.

Every rookie hits one, some harder than others.

The Penguins' gifted Russian forward -- their second-best player -- has two goals in his past 15 games and four in his past 25. He has no points in three of his past four games and did not register a shot in the Penguins' 6-3 loss to Ottawa on Wednesday, despite logging nearly eight minutes of power-play time.

Heck, he didn't even register a missed shot.

This is one of many problems the Penguins must fix going into Game 2 today at Scotiabank Place.

Something tells me we're going to see a much different team, even if that's just a gut feeling based on observing the club's spirited, high-tempo practice Friday.

A day earlier, the Penguins still seemed stunned. Yesterday, they were downright giddy, grinding away for an hour in preparation for Game 2.

Besides, this team has offered too much evidence of its heart and talent to make anyone believe it will bomb again.

Not that coach Michel Therrien should stand pat. He used his Game 1 line combinations in practice each of the past two days, but that means nothing. You better believe there'll be some changes.

This is a guy who changed lines like socks all season. Do you think he's going to stick with the same units after such a horrifying playoff loss?

"We're going to do some adjustments, no doubt," Therrien said. "You can't be stubborn."

He wouldn't elaborate on possible changes in strategy or lines, of course, which is just as well. If he's going to switch his line combinations, it's better to do it in-game and force Senators coach Bryan Murray to respond on the fly.

It's possible nothing will help Malkin, just as nothing can help a novice marathon runner whose legs have turned to linguini at mile 17. Malkin has logged only two more games (79) than he did all of last season in Russia, but the rugged North American game is an entirely different animal, especially now that the Senators have zeroed in on Malkin the way a home-run hitter zeroes in on a belt-high fastball.

Malkin's inability to speak English makes things harder, because there are so few people who can help talk him through his difficulties.

"He actually understands (English) better than people realize," said assistant coach Mike Yeo. "But communication's still a problem."

The good news is that the 20-year-old Malkin had some serious spring in his step at practice the past two days and has a recent history of rising to the challenge in high-stakes competition.

Therrien's best bet is to get Malkin away from Ryan Malone and Mark Recchi and put him back with long-time linemate Jordan Staal, or, better yet, with Sidney Crosby.

Among the advantages of a Crosby-Malkin pairing:

? It splits the bull's eye on each man's back, giving each half of one, and divides the attention of the Senators' suffocating defense tandem of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov.

? It gives Crosby a dangerous (if dormant) goal scorer on his wing and pits him with the only player on the team who thinks the game the same.

? It gives Malkin a set-up man and gets him out of the faceoff circle, where he suffered third-degree burns the other night, losing 16 of 18 draws.

? It allows Erik Christensen to move up from the fourth line.

If nothing works, Therrien cannot afford to wait for Malkin to recapture his magic. Malkin has one power-play goal in the past 15 games. Christensen or Michel Ouellet should get a shot on the first power play if Malkin can't cut it as the trigger-man.

Patience can be a vice in a playoff series.


04-13-2007, 11:14 PM
Pens' lines don't figure to change

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, April 14, 2007

All indications are that coach Michel Therrien plans to stick with the same lines and defensive pairings for today's Game 2 against the Ottawa Senators that he used in Game 1's 6-3 loss. But not everything will be the same, as the Penguins try to even the series going back to Pittsburgh.

"We try to make adjustments for every game, and we're going to make adjustments for (today), there's no doubt," Therrien said Friday. "I'm not going to tell the adjustments we're going to do."

Therrien said they have a plan regarding changing their lines, however.

"You go with a strategy. Sometimes you've got to change quick, especially with a young team, because with a young team, you try to use as much as you can the players who are on top of their game. Put them together. In a perfect world, you have 12 forwards and six defensemen playing at the top of their game. When you have a young team, it doesn't happen all the time. This is where you have to coach; this is where you have to make decisions. You have to find a way to win games. You can't be stubborn."

? Could it be that the extra day off between games because of an Il Divo concert at Scotiabank Place will prove beneficial for the Penguins? Unlike Thursday's more serious practice, the Penguins players seemed more their usual fun-loving selves yesterday at the Senators' practice rink.

"(Thursday), we were focused and just made sure we came and had a good, solid practice and made sure we refocused," Sidney Crosby said. "(Yesterday) was the same thing, but it was probably a little bit more loose just because we worked hard (Thursday). Everybody's looking forward to playing Game 2 and getting rolling again."

? NBC Sports is using today's Penguins-Senators game to kick off its 2007 playoff coverage, preceded by a half-hour preview show beginning at 2:30 p.m.


6 - Power-play goals scored against the Senators in four regular-season games this year.

2 - Power-play goals scored against the Senators in Game 1.

2 - Shorthanded goals scored against the Senators in the regular season.


04-13-2007, 11:15 PM
Guest column: Time for Pens' Therrien to make his move

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Right about now is when those nicely-dressed guys who stand behind the benches start earning their cake.

One game into the second season and adjustments must be made, the post-season imperative that the loser in Game 1 is the guy who has to react.

Penguins coach Michel Therrien will react today.

"This is where you have to coach, make decisions, you've got to find a way to win games," said Therrien. "This is where you've got to change your lines sometimes. You can't be stubborn. We try and make adjustments for almost every game, and we've got to do adjustments for (today's) game, there's no doubt."

At the top of the list is finding somebody to help out Penguins star Sidney Crosby, especially 5-on-5.

Crosby played Game 1 with Gary Roberts and Colby Armstrong, but was only a threat, really, when the Art Ross Trophy winner was out there on the power play.

That gave him the room to get away from Ottawa defenders Chris Phillips and Anton Volcheknov, otherwise know as "Saran" and "Wrap," respectively.

It was interesting to listen to Crosby heading into Game 2 today. He stressed how important it was for him to keep his feet moving and draw penalties, as if resigned to the fact the power play is going to be the quickest and best way for him to have an impact on this series, which the Pens trail 1-0.

"I've got to move my feet, skate and I'm confident they're going to have to take penalties," said Crosby.

The Senators are deathly afraid of Crosby on the power play. He scored a late goal in Game 1 with a power move to the front of the net.

"He's a scary guy," said Senators coach Bryan Murray. "You watch him. Every shift he tries to do something, and he most often does something. He gets a little more play from a couple of other guys he can pass the puck to on the power play."

All of Crosby's points this season against the Senators have come on the power play.

He's got nothing at even-strength.

So, the Senators' biggest adjustment from Game 1 will be to try and at least cut in half the 10 power-play opportunities they gave the Penguins.

The challenge facing Therrien is to shuffle his lines to try and help make Crosby more of a factor 5-on-5.

"It's not only Crosby. That's got to kind of stop. For us, the team, we have to play a better game and we will. I'm confident we will," said Therrien. "There will be less surprise than the first game. Now, they know what to expect, so we expect better."

Therrien has played rookie of the year favorite Evgeni Malkin with Crosby this season. That might be one of his options today.

"He's another kid who can really shoot the puck. I don't want to encourage that move, but that's up to Michel," said Murray. "Whoever (Crosby) plays with, we have to make sure we don't let him get the puck back in the offensive zone."

Malkin didn't exactly make an impression, except on the boards, in Game 1.

He was run by Ottawa's Mike Comrie on the first shift and pretty much slipped off to the suburbs of Magnitorgorsk for the rest of the game until Ottawa's Christoph Schubert rang him up, drawing the ire of Therrien.

"But (Malkin) will be fine. Those type of players always find a way to have success," said Therrien. "The last game, they're playing physical. He's got to get used to that. We've got to make sure we respond to that physical game."

Therrien said the guys who are playing the best deserve the ice time, and based on Game 1, the best Penguins forwards were the 19-year-old Crosby, 18-year-old Jordan Staal and Michel Ouellet.

"We've got a plan regarding changing our lines. You go with a strategy. Sometimes you've got to change quick, especially with a young team, because with a young team, you try to use as much as you can the players who are on top of their game. Put them together," said Therrien.

"Jordan Staal doesn't stop amazing me, amazing his teammates, amazing a lot of people. He's got that composure. He's a good, two-way player. It's pretty scary to see a young kid coming off a tremendous season, the way he handles himself in his first game in the playoffs in the NHL. We've got a player there. We've got a good player there."

The Penguins are going to need much more than "a" good player today, even if his name is Sidney.


04-13-2007, 11:16 PM
Ottawa veteran Alfredsson on mission for Cup

By Rob Rossi
Saturday, April 14, 2007

OTTAWA - Say Mario Lemieux had never delivered the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh.

Imagine Lemieux's great Penguins clubs of the early-1990s had never realized their enormous potential and knew only the bitter taste of postseason failure.

Hear Lemieux explain how he feels healthy heading into the playoffs -- healthy and motivated.

See Lemieux start an opening-round playoff series against the NHL's next would-be dynasty by skating with intent, shooting the puck from seemingly everywhere, contributing defensively and finishing checks.

Think that Lemieux might be a difficult player to handle four times over seven games?

Welcome to the problem facing these Penguins entering Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series this afternoon: Daniel Alfredsson is to these Ottawa Senators what Lemieux was to those Penguins -- the face of the franchise.

And the look on Alfredsson's face during Game 1 suggested he is a man on a mission to join the likes of Lemieux as players that have captained their clubs to a Stanley Cup.

"He's been our leader here for a long time," Ottawa center Mike Fisher said of Alfredsson, who just wrapped his 11th regular season with the Senators. "As years go by and you don't win, you want to do all the little things possible to win. We're all doing that, and 'Alfie' is leading the way."

In the opener against an awe-struck Penguins squad, Alfredsson did not record a point until early in the third period, and that came in the form of an assist on Dany Heatley's goal to extend Ottawa's two-goal cushion.

Still, when the three stars were announced following the Senators' 6-3 victory Wednesday, Alfredsson was the clear choice for No. 1.

"Look at how many shots 'Alfie' took. He was firing from everywhere," Ottawa center and linemate Jason Spezza said.

For the record, Alfredsson was credited with eight shots in Game 1. However, he fired at least three pucks wide of the net after finding real estate in the offensive zone.

"If he gets as many opportunities (today) as he did (Wednesday) -- well, he's not going to miss," Spezza said. "At least, I would not count on him missing."

What the Senators seemingly do count on is Alfredsson leading by example both on the ice and in the locker room. His is the role of a captain, and he serves in classic form.

"Listening to him before (Game 1) and watching his start ... he was one of the ones we looked to set the tone, and he certainly did," Ottawa coach Bryan Murray said. "He is a lot like (former Washington Capitals' captain) Rod Langway. Rod said very little on the ice. When he said something, he was very demanding.

"Daniel is a lot like that. He's not afraid to tell me what he thinks of practice or the team. He's not afraid of work."

Alfredsson is equally unafraid of the enormous pressure to bring the Stanley Cup to Ottawa. Perhaps because he shows no fear of that expectation, teammates view this particular chase for the chalice as a chance to provide their captain with an opportunity to cement his legacy.

"I don't think it worries him too much what people think of him, whether or not he is a great player or whatever," Ottawa defenseman Christoph Schubert said. "But I know he wants to prove to everybody that this is a team that can win the Stanley Cup, and he wants to be the guy that leads us to that goal.

"If he is on a mission, so are we -- to get him that Cup."


04-13-2007, 11:18 PM
Sens' Alfredsson not for playing on consecutive days

By The Tribune-Review
Saturday, April 14, 2007

Count captain Daniel Alfredsson as being against the concept of playing postseason games on consecutive days, as Ottawa and Pittsburgh will do Saturday and Sunday.

"It's the same for both teams, but it's not really fair for anybody," he said. "Look at Vancouver and Dallas going to (four) overtimes (Wednesday). What if they had to play the next day? We'll do what we have to do, and hope our game doesn't go into overtimes, I guess."

? Defenseman Chris Phillips is not exactly sure why the Senators have succeeded at suffocating Penguins center Sidney Crosby, especially considering that Crosby, 19, led the league in scoring during the regular season. However, including Game 1 of this series, Crosby has scored only two goals and recorded just six points in eight career games against the Senators.

"Of course, we take pride in trying to do what (coaches) expect us to do," Phillips said. "With Sidney, it's a challenge, but we think we handle it pretty well."

? Coach Bryan Murray said he does not expect Game 2 to turn into a display of macho-man antics, despite a contentious ending to Game 1. But if the Penguins wish to play a physical game today, Murray said his team can hold its own.

"We certainly are comfortable if it does become more physical," Murray said. "We've got big bodies, so we can handle that." Murray said he expected the Penguins to respond by implementing their speed. "I expect more puck movement and Game 2 to be better played, with fewer penalties."

? Right wing Dany Heatley on the Penguins' penchant for talking on the ice: "I would say they have a lot of guys that like to talk and get under your skin -- maybe a little more than anybody else."


7:03 - Difference in power-play time between the Penguins (16:57) and Senators (9:54) in Game 1.

75 - Percent of faceoffs won by Antoine Vermette (21 of 28) in Game 1.


04-14-2007, 09:21 AM
Cook: Amazing Crosby, 19, handles ceaseless pressure
Saturday, April 14, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Pirates' clubhouse might seem like a strange place to go for a little good hockey talk, but, hey, there are Penguins fans in there, too.

"How old is Sid? 19?" Jason Bay was asking the other day. "I can't believe that. I think I was a sophomore in junior college when I was 19 and here he is, the best hockey player in the world. That's just amazing."

Ridiculous, actually.

"He's only 19 ... I don't think I even had hair on my face yet," Bay said, shaking his head.

I'm guessing that makes it pretty much official.

Everybody is talking about Sid the Kid these days.

Bay is a Canadian, born and bred, and understands the hockey craze here better than most, but even he would be shocked at the scrutiny Sidney Crosby is getting as the Penguins prepare for Game 2 today of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. Penguins winger Mark Recchi expected it to be intense, not just because Crosby is the face of the new NHL, but also because there is no Toronto or Montreal team in the playoffs to divert media attention. But he didn't expect this.

"I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be in his shoes," Recchi said. "I played with Mario"-- that would be Mr. Lemieux -- "and he didn't have to go through anything like it. Not even Wayne" -- that would be Mr. Gretzky -- "had to deal with this. No one ever has and no one probably ever will again."

It starts for Crosby in the morning, after the Penguins' practice or game-day skate, when he's summoned to the media interview room, a place normally reserved for the two coaches. No other player is invited. Not goalie Marc-Andre Fleury or soon-to-be NHL Rookie of the Year Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins. Not captain Daniel Alfredsson or 50-goal-scorer Dany Heatley of the Senators. Only Crosby, who is interrogated first in English, then in French, for anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour.

This happens every day.

Suddenly, the five minutes a week Big Ben Roethlisberger gives the Pittsburgh media during the NFL season doesn't seem like such an imposition on him.

Crosby will be the only player hauled back to the interview room after the game this afternoon, just as he was after Game 1 Wednesday night. That wasn't much fun for him; his NHL playoff debut couldn't have gone more badly. He was banged around pretty good by Ottawa's top defensive pairing of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov, didn't get his first shot off until midway through the game and picked up his only point when he scored a meaningless power-play goal in the final minute. Even worse, the Penguins were humiliated, 6-3. Try explaining that in two languages.

"We're not angry. There's no reason to be angry," Crosby said. "We just expect more of ourselves. We all realize we have a lot better in us."

That's the same message Crosby delivered to his teammates. That made-for-TV moment the other night when he, Recchi and veteran winger Gary Roberts were huddled on the Penguins' bench together late in the game? "He was lecturing us," Roberts said, only half-kidding. Added Recchi, "Sid is our leader. He knows he has to lead the way. He knows everyone in the room is watching to see how he reacts, how he practices, how he works. He accepts that responsibility. The kid is unbelievable."

Recchi and Roberts know the extraordinary pressure on Crosby. They know much of Canada -- not to mention all of Pittsburgh -- is expecting Sid the Kid to carry the Penguins past the Senators. It's not fair, they say -- "Even the best player in the world needs good people around him," Roberts said -- but since when did life become fair?

"It's not me vs. the Senators, it's our team vs. their team," Crosby said. "Maybe some people don't realize that, but that's the way it is. If we're going to do this, we're going to do it together as a group."

Good luck to Crosby with that.

Good luck to him trying to convince the masses looking at this series and seeing only No. 87 in the Penguins' uniform.

"My god, he's 19," Recchi said, sounding a lot like Bay now. "I think people forget that. I know they talk about it, but do they really realize what it means? They have to ask themselves: What were they doing when they were 19?"


Go ahead and ask yourself.

And try to remember if you had hair on your face.


04-14-2007, 10:44 AM
ESPN just ran an excellent piece on Sidney Crosby/Wayne Gretzky and enforcers. They interviewed Gretzky, McSorley, Laraque, Cherry, Recchi and Crosby.

First off, every single time they interview Wayne Gretzky he has nothing but high praise for Sidney Crosby. I've heard more praise come out of his mouth pertaining to Sidney Crosby than I've heard from anybody outside the Penguin organization. A class act off the ice and one of the best players ever to play on the ice.

Then there is Don Cherry. He stuck by his guns stating that Crosby dives and "snaps his head back" while getting punched in the face by Hatcher. I'm still trying to figure out what Don expect's Sid's head to do when he get's punched in the face while losing teeth in the process? BTW, nice cheap suits.

Laraque basically stated that he is up for the task and follow in the footsteps of Semenko and McSorley. Hopefully in game two he doesn't wait until the end of the third period to start showing it.

Recchi went on to say that players around the league who criticize Sid better watch themselves. Sid is going to be putting money in their pockets for many years to come. He went on to say that there could be a penalty called every time Sid is on the ice if the officials actually called the game like they called it in the beginning of the season. Stating Sid get's hooked and grabbed during every shift.

Gretzky who has taken a ton of heat over the years had McSorley and Semenko. McSorley stated that he honestly felt that some players went out of their way to bring Gretzky down to their level of play. His job was to make sure that did not happen. Some blame Gretzky for the officials calling penalties all the time when he was touched. Not his fault, blame the officials. Some blame Gretzky for surrounding himself with a heavyweight. So would I and so would Ray Shero. Shero proved that by bringing in Laraque in order to look after Sid. I'm still trying to figure out why one of the best players to ever play the game takes as much heat as Wayne does in this day and age. Pretty sad.

Overall, a surpisingly good piece by ESPN.

04-14-2007, 01:45 PM


04-14-2007, 02:10 PM


Amen to that. Come out of the gates firing on all cylinders. Time to match them in the physical play department. They hit Sid, you hit Heatley. They hit Geno, you hit Alfredsson. They hit Staal, you hit Spezza.

Let's even it up and bring it back home. Let's Go Pens!!!

tony hipchest
04-14-2007, 02:13 PM
ESPN just ran an excellent piece on Sidney Crosby/Wayne Gretzky and enforcers. They interviewed Gretzky, McSorley, Laraque, Cherry, Recchi and Crosby.

First off, every single time they interview Wayne Gretzky he has nothing but high praise for Sidney Crosby. I've heard more praise come out of his mouth pertaining to Sidney Crosby than I've heard from anybody outside the Penguin organization. A class act off the ice and one of the best players ever to play on the ice.

Then there is Don Cherry. He stuck by his guns stating that Crosby dives and "snaps his head back" while getting punched in the face by Hatcher. I'm still trying to figure out what Don expect's Sid's head to do when he get's punched in the face while losing teeth in the process? BTW, nice cheap suits.

Laraque basically stated that he is up for the task and follow in the footsteps of Semenko and McSorley. Hopefully in game two he doesn't wait until the end of the third period to start showing it.

Recchi went on to say that players around the league who criticize Sid better watch themselves. Sid is going to be putting money in their pockets for many years to come. He went on to say that there could be a penalty called every time Sid is on the ice if the officials actually called the game like they called it in the beginning of the season. Stating Sid get's hooked and grabbed during every shift.

Gretzky who has taken a ton of heat over the years had McSorley and Semenko. McSorley stated that he honestly felt that some players went out of their way to bring Gretzky down to their level of play. His job was to make sure that did not happen. Some blame Gretzky for the officials not calling a penalty. Not his fault, blame the officials. Some blame Gretzky for surrounding himself with a heavyweight. So would I and so would Ray Shero. Shero proved that by bringing in Laraque in order to look after Sid. I'm still trying to figure out why one of the best players to ever play the game takes as much heat as Wayne does in this day and age. Pretty sad.

Overall, a surpisingly good piece by ESPN.definitely a good piece. i sleep with the tv on and woke up to this piece thismorning. alot of jealous haters out there. don cherry came across as a complete prick. if crosby was flopping and taking a dive when he took that stick to the face, he needs to quit hockey and become a stunt man for jackie chan flicks.

crosby is a lucky kid to have both gretzky and lemieux in his corner. the rest of the league definitely needs to take notice. its obvious he is the michael jordan of his sport, just like the griffey jr's, a-rod's, labron's and vick (minus the baggage and non performance) before him.

im impressed with laraque and hope he pans out. how do you all rank him compared to d. kaspiritus (who quickly became one of my favorites once pittsburgh brought him in)?

04-14-2007, 02:18 PM
how do you all rank him compared to d. kaspiritus (who quickly became one of my favorites once pittsburgh brought him in)?

Just my opinion.....

Well, Laraque is a forward and Kaspar is a defenseman. Kaspar never fought and Laraque does throw down. Kaspar used to take dumb penalties and Laraque has stayed out of the box for the most part since joining the Penguins.

I loved Kaspar's intensity and hustle, but dumb penalties and taking himself out of position in order to hit a guy who didn't even have the puck was his downfall. Loved the big hits, but not at the expense of it resulting in a 2 on 1 the other way. After he left Pittsburgh and went to NY (Rangers) where he was benched because of his style of play. They wanted him to play smarter defense. He settled down after the benching and he rounded out to be a pretty solid defenseman once he cut out all the B.S. Eventually the Rangers released him and I believe he is still a FA.

04-14-2007, 02:20 PM

04-14-2007, 02:21 PM
Penguins penalty to start the game off.....

04-14-2007, 02:22 PM

04-14-2007, 02:23 PM

04-14-2007, 02:24 PM
Goalie interference on Sens.

04-14-2007, 02:24 PM


04-14-2007, 02:25 PM
Laraque is not playing, Petro is playing......

04-14-2007, 02:26 PM
SCORES!!!!!! There we go baby!! Just what the doctor ordered.

04-14-2007, 02:26 PM


04-14-2007, 02:28 PM
Penguin penalty...damnit.

04-14-2007, 02:29 PM

04-14-2007, 02:30 PM

04-14-2007, 02:32 PM
Good Job Killing the Penalty! LET'S SCORE AGAIN!

tony hipchest
04-14-2007, 02:34 PM
I loved Kaspar's intensity and hustle, but dumb penalties and taking himself out of position in order to hit a guy who didn't even have the puck was his downfall. sounds alot like joey porter, huh? i guess thats why i always liked him, but i do remember all the dumb moves. almost like he was more focussed on proving his image rather than the game itself.

ottowa would have a ton of momentum with all the early power play time. that lucky deflection for a goal by whitney was a great equalizer.

04-14-2007, 02:35 PM

04-14-2007, 02:36 PM
Pretty quiet in that building. Good job of shutting down the crowd. Sens are still throwing the body around like it's nobody's business. Match it.

04-14-2007, 02:38 PM
Pretty quiet in that building. Good job of shutting down the crowd. Sens are still throwing the body around like it's nobody's business. Match it.

That's for sure. LET'S KEEP IT THAT WAY. (The Sens Fans That is)

Sens still throwing bodies around. We'll return fire.

04-14-2007, 02:38 PM
Shubert is down and not moving. Looks like he smacked the back of his head on the ice. Fans are boo'ing but I don't think Talbot even saw him.

04-14-2007, 02:39 PM
Schubert's Down, he's moving now though.

04-14-2007, 02:40 PM
He's up but he's seeing little Maxime Talbot's flying around his head.

04-14-2007, 02:40 PM
Nastiest Playoff Series so far as the ice side reporter says. THAT'S FOR SURE HOW TO DESCRIBE THIS SERIES.

04-14-2007, 02:41 PM
He's up but he's seeing little Maxime Talbot's flying around his head.

I thought I saw something flying around his head. LOL.

Not to be rude though.

tony hipchest
04-14-2007, 02:42 PM
sweet replay of crosby plowing into 3 sens in a span of 10 seconds

04-14-2007, 02:43 PM
sweet replay of crosby plowing into 3 sens in a span of 10 seconds

Funny how they bounce off of him like a pinball....lol. Unless they hold or hook him.

04-14-2007, 02:44 PM
Funny how they bounce off of him like a pinball....lol. Unless they hold or hook him.

That's the only way ANY NHL player that goes against him pretty much is able to even get close to shutting him down.

04-14-2007, 02:45 PM
Nice Stick Shield that they showed in the replay by Crosby.

04-14-2007, 02:47 PM
Penguins PP coming on up!!!

04-14-2007, 02:47 PM


04-14-2007, 02:50 PM

04-14-2007, 02:51 PM

04-14-2007, 02:54 PM
Good Defense. KEEP IT UP!

04-14-2007, 02:55 PM
Sens PP coming on up.

04-14-2007, 02:55 PM

tony hipchest
04-14-2007, 02:55 PM
Funny how they bounce off of him like a pinball....lol. Unless they hold or hook him.its amazing really, how he doesnt even lose balance.

04-14-2007, 02:58 PM

04-14-2007, 02:59 PM
Nice punch/cross check in the face by Phillips on Sid. I guess we will look away from those ones huh?

04-14-2007, 03:00 PM
There should have been a cross check to Phillips. Anyone see that Replay?

Otherwise good first.

04-14-2007, 03:01 PM
Man, there have been some really weak penalty calls so far. Mick "Fats" McGeough is one of the referees, though, so nobody should be surprised.

04-14-2007, 03:05 PM
There should have been a cross check to Phillips. Anyone see that Replay?

Otherwise good first.

Saw it and it was a B.S. no call. They won't call that a penalty but they made that call on Colby Armstrong? That was a chicken s*** call.

04-14-2007, 03:06 PM
Saw it and it was a B.S. no call. They won't call that a penalty but they made that call on Colby Armstrong? That was a chicken s*** call.

Yeah well, we'll overcome it. We're up 1-0. Let's get more goals on the Penguins Side of the scoreboard.

04-14-2007, 03:07 PM
Oh well, it's in the past now. I almost caught myself sounding like a Maple Leaf fan...lol. No point in B&M about it I guess. Hopefully the officials keep that blown call in they're minds for later in the game. Let's come out in the second like we did in the first.

04-14-2007, 03:08 PM
Oh well, it's in the past now. I almost caught myself sounding like a Maple Leaf fan...lol. No point in B&M about it. Let's come out in the second like we did in the first.

haha yeah, at least you stopped yourself from going on, and on, and on, etc.

04-14-2007, 03:18 PM
Anyone see the 19 Hit Count in Period 1. Someone did get them fired up today.

04-14-2007, 03:19 PM
I don't think Whitney was looking at the puck on the deflection.

04-14-2007, 03:20 PM
2 CLOSE Calls there.

04-14-2007, 03:20 PM
Sens PP coming up.

04-14-2007, 03:21 PM
WTF? Where's the BS Slash?


04-14-2007, 03:24 PM
Good way to cover that one up by Fleury.

04-14-2007, 03:24 PM
Talbot takes a nice high stick to the face by Heatley.

04-14-2007, 03:25 PM
No Shots on Goal surprisingly this period.

04-14-2007, 03:25 PM
Talbot takes a nice high stick to the face by Heatley.

I wonder why play wasn't stopped. Refs not looking is my guess.

04-14-2007, 03:27 PM
The hitting and the tempers are flaring up.....lol. You gotta love it.

04-14-2007, 03:27 PM
FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! You can tell this IS a big time rivalry Playoffs or Not.