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.