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Old 04-12-2007, 11:47 PM   #1931
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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.

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Old 04-13-2007, 11:03 PM   #1932
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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."

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Old 04-13-2007, 11:05 PM   #1933
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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 [back-to-back] 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."

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."

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Old 04-13-2007, 11:06 PM   #1934
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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.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07104/777976-61.stm
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:10 PM   #1935
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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.

"No."

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.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07104/777981-61.stm
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:11 PM   #1936
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

Pens' Crosby hits road block at Ottawa

By Karen Price
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
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."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502663.html
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:13 PM   #1937
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

Crunch time in Malkin?s marathon

By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, April 14, 2007

OTTAWA

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.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502668.html
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:14 PM   #1938
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Default Re: Pens Tidbits

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.


Digits

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.

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_502677.html
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Old 04-13-2007, 11:15 PM   #1939
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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.

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Old 04-13-2007, 11:16 PM   #1940
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Ottawa veteran Alfredsson on mission for Cup

By Rob Rossi
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
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."

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