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Old 04-12-2007, 12:44 PM   #1921
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Default Game 1 - Ottawa vs Pens (6-3)

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.
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Old 04-12-2007, 09:30 PM   #1922
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Default Re: Game 1 - Ottawa vs Pens (6-3)

Quote:
Originally Posted by drizze99 View Post
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...

GO PENS!!!!
BRING HOME THE CUP!!!!!!!
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:12 PM   #1923
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

Pens hope resilience holds up in postseason

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
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."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502456.html
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:16 PM   #1924
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

Did Sens rub Pens wrong way?

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, April 13, 2007

OTTAWA

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.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502462.html
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:18 PM   #1925
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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)."


Digits

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.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502464.html
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:29 PM   #1926
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Ottawa's game-plan focuses on disrupting defensemen

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
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."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502466.html
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:33 PM   #1927
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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."


Digits

.250 - Senators' playoff winning percentage when allowing the first goal

12 - Players on the current Senators roster originally drafted by Ottawa

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502470.html
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:37 PM   #1928
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07103/777671-61.stm
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:41 PM   #1929
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07103/777672-61.stm
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Old 04-12-2007, 11:44 PM   #1930
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07103/777733-61.stm
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