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Penguins vs. Senators blog

Rusty out?

4.16.2010 / 10:50 a.m. ET

It looks like Ruslan Fedotenko could be a healthy scratch tonight for Game 2.

Coach Dan Bylsma talked yesterday about how Rupp's size and speed through the neutral zone could help the Pens get into their game -- getting pucks in behind the other team's defense and following with a strong, physical forecheck.

Rupp skated again with Maxime Talbot and Craig Adams.

Other lines saw Sidney Crosby centering Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin between Alexei Ponikarovsky and Pascal Dupuis, and Jordan Staal with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy.

-- Adam Kimelman

A good hate going

4.16.2010 / 10:16 a.m. ET

The Penguins and Senators didn't play between Jan. 28 and Game 1 of their quarterfinal playoff series, but it didn't take long for the rivalry to resume.

Remember, this is the third time in four years these teams have met in the playoffs. And as Ottawa's Jason Spezza pointed out, it's the fourth time in five years going back to the 2005 AHL playoffs.

So it was easy for players on both sides to remember how much they dislike each other.

"I think it (the hate) always builds throughout the series," Spezza said. "There's more and more emotions that get run in. We play each other so much. That's the fun part of the playoffs, how you play the same team over and over."

"We have a history with them in the playoffs, and I don't think that element of not liking them wasn't there maybe enough because of the long periods since we've played them," said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. "That's definitely there now."

Coach Dan Bylsma hopes the hate fuels his team going into Game 2 tonight.

"I think the desperation level and the urgency level, they were better in that department (in Game 1) and they played exactly how we expected," said Bylsma. "Them beating us in our building in Game 1, that hatred and desperation better be enough right now to bring to Game 2 and be ready to get to our game. I think if we didn't have it, we should have it right now with how they played against us."

Senators GM Bryan Murray, though, tried to ratchet down the "hate" element.

"We're playing a game," he said. "Hatred is a little bit strong. It's great for you guys in the media to write about and ask the players about. I think we're competitors. Sidney is a competitor. We're strong competitors, with some emotion that will be ramped up a little bit. To go to the extreme of hate … I think they're all part of a union, and they'll all vote together at some point in time for a new leader. I can't imagine that (hate) is the right word."

But like Murray said, it's certainly fun to talk about.

-- Adam Kimelman

Who was that masked man?

4.15.2010 / 3:29 p.m. ET

With Penguins goalie Brent Johnson suffering from flu-like symptoms, the Penguins had to scramble for a second goalie for practice this morning.

The answer: Jim Britt, the team's video coordinator.

Johnson was at Mellon Arena for a bit today -- though not in uniform -- and it's certain he'll be on the bench for Game 2 Friday, backing up Marc-Andre Fleury.

But here's a thought -- last year, much was made in Washington of the Caps using one of their Web site video people, Brett Leonhardt, as a fill-in goalie. If the Pens and Caps play again in the postseason, could we see a Britt-Leonhardt match?

Doubtful, but it's an entertaining thought.

ADD: Just got this note from the Penguins -- the team has recalled goalie Brad Thiessen from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

-- Adam Kimelman

Stepping his game up

4.15.2010 / 3:09 p.m. ET

Craig Adams never played with Kent Manderville, but they have a bit in common. Both played for the Penguins and Hurricanes, both are Ivy League graduates (Manderville went to Cornell, Adams to Harvard) and both have 100-plus regular-season goal droughts on their resume. Manderville's streak reached 122 games, while Adams is closing in at 111.

"Is that right? I didn't know. I know it's been a long time, for sure," Adams told NHL.com when informed of his goal-less streak.

However, Adams turns into a veritible Wayne Gretzky during the playoffs. His goal in Game 1 was his fourth in his last 13 postseason games.

"Everybody likes to score, especially when you haven't gotten one in a while," he said.

The goal was a nice backhander off the rush that floated over Brian Elliott's glove and for a time drew the Penguins within one goal, 4-3, in the third period.

"Of the few goals I have in my career, I have probably a disproportionate number of backhanders," said Adams.

-- Adam Kimelman

Michalek done for season

4.15.2010 / 2:27 p.m. ET

Senators GM Bryan Murray moments ago confirmed that forward Milan Michalek tore his ACL last night in Game 1 and will require season-ending surgery.

Michaelk had been playing on a partially torn ligament in his knee suffered in late March and likely needed surgery then, but wanted to remain in the lineup for the playoffs, so he rehabbed to get back in for Game 1.

Murray said the injury happened in the second period on a collision with teammate Mike Fisher and a Penguins defenseman along the wall in the Pittsburgh end.

Michaelk joins forward Alexei Kovalev (ACL tear) and defenseman Filip Kuba as key long-term losses for the Senators.

Ryan Shannon will come into the lineup to replace Michalek.

More details in a bit.

-- Adam Kimelman

Missing in action

4.15.2010 / 1:32 p.m. ET

Two notable Senators are missing from today's practice.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson is skipping the day just to rest. The news might not be as good for forward Milan Michalek. Michalek played on the second line with Mike Fisher and Matt Cullen, but was missing this morning.

Michalek missed time recently with a knee injury, and GM Bryan Murray is going to address the media soon with an update on Michalek's health.

-- Adam Kimelman

New lines?

4.14.2010 / 11:24 p.m. ET

Greetings from Penguins practice. Coach Dan Bylsma seems to change his lines slightly more often than he changes his socks, so take these combos with a pound of salt, but here's how the Pens' forward lines looked this morning:

Kunitz-Crosby-Guerin

Ponikarovsky-Malkin-Dupuis

Kennedy-Staal-Cooke

Rupp-Talbot-Adams

Godard and Fedotenko skated as the extra forwards, with Ponikarovsky filling out the line.

Godard rarely sees the ice in the playoffs, but seeing Fedotenko with him is a bit of a surprise. Does that mean heaks out for Game 2? Maybe not, but it does make things interesting.

-- Adam Kimelman

Fleury will be fine

4.14.2010 / 11:32 p.m. ET

Last year during the playoffs, Marc-Andre Fleury was seen as the reason the Penguins wouldn't and couldn't win the Stanley Cup. Well, those were the same people cheering for him in last June's parade.

Now those fans again are gnashing their teeth over Fleury's poor performance in Game 1 tonight against the Senators. But here's a few numbers that should make those fans feel comfortable looking ahead to Game 2 on Friday.

Fleury gave up five goals in a game three times during last year's postseason. Each time, he won the next game, and allowed a total of four goals in those three games. He stopped 45 of 46 shots in Game 4 in Philadelphia in the first round, he stopped 19 of 21 shots in Game 7 in Washington -- anyone remember the glove stop on Ovechkin? -- and made 25 saves on 26 shots in Game 6 of the Final against the Red Wings in Pittsburgh. Fleury more than earned his big-game stripes last season.

Folks, Fleury will be fine. His teammates getting more than 21 shots on the other team's net certainly would help. Oh, and watch those bounces off the glass.

-- Adam Kimelman

Spezza's new role

4.14.2010 / 11:23 p.m. ET

Jarko Ruutu and Chris Neil are the players most looked at on the Ottawa Senators as the guys who drive the opposition bonkers and force them to take ill-timed penalties. But last night, it was Jason Spezza getting under the Penguins' skin. He had three hits, including a high hit on Crosby that sent the Penguins' captain off the ice for a shift midway through the second period. That also drew the ire of Crosby's teammate, Chris Kunitz. When Kunitz saw a chance to take a shot on Spezza, it was a double-whammy -- not only did Kunitz appear to miss Spezza with his hit attempt, he drew a charging penalty for going after a vulnerable player -- Spezza had fallen onto the seat of his pants along the boards. Ottawa cashed in when Erik Karlsson scored to make it 4-2.

He also took Matt Cooke to the penalty box with him in the first minute of the third period.

The hit on Crosby, though, was one Spezza still was relishing after the game.

"You have to watch him when he's on the ice," said Spezza. "You have to be hard on him. He's so strong, he's such a good player. I think the respect that I have for him as a player makes me want to play him even harder."

-- Adam Kimelman

Spezza the agitator

4.14.2010 / 8:52 p.m. ET

Jason Spezza came up high on Sidney Crosby with what either was a shoulder or elbow to Crosby's head, sending the Penguins' captain off for a shift. Chris Kunitz tried to avenge his captain when he saw Spezza in a vulnerable spot -- seated on the ice near the boards after he lost an edge -- and tried to deliver a hit. He appeared to miss Spezza, but still was called for charging. Sixty-three seconds later, Erik Karlsson scored a power-play goal off another big Fleury rebound to make it 4-2.

That's where we stand after two periods. Back with more after the game.

-- Adam Kimelman

Sens take advantage of Fleury's favors

4.14.2010 / 8:10 PM ET

The Penguins took an early lead on Evgeni Malkin's goal, but then they went 16:26 without a shot. Meanwhile, the Senators capitalized on a pair of big rebounds allowed by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for a pair of goals, first by Peter Regin, then by Chris Neil.

First, the shot drought -- it's inexplicable that a team as talented as the Penguins can go nearly an entire period without a shot. And it's not like they didn't have chances. They had a second power play after the one that led to Malkin's goal, and other chances seemed to be high and wide of the net. And when the puck has come into Ottawa's end, Brian Elliott hasn't exactly looked smooth.

And Fleury's rebound control was real bad on the Regin goal. He kicked the puck right back into the slot for an easy goal. On the Neil goal, he needed to re-set himself quicker, but it didn't happen.

Back soon with the second period.

-- Adam Kimelman

Lines and pairings

4.14.2010 / 7:05 PM ET

Here are how the lines and defense pairings appear to shape up to start the game:

Pittsburgh:

Dupuis-Crosby-Guerin

Ponikarovsky-Malkin-Fedotenko

Cooke-Staal-Kennedy

Kunitz-Talbot-Adams

Orpik-Gonchar

Eaton-Letang

Goligoski-Leopold

Rupp, Godard and McKee are the scratches

Ottawa:

Regin-Spezza-Alfredsson

Cullen-Fisher-Michalek

Ruutu-Kelly-Neil

Foligno-Smith-Winchester

Phillips-Volchenkov

Sutton-Karlsson

Campoli-Carkner

Donovan, Shannon and Lee are the scratches

-- Adam Kimelman

Passing the test

4.14.2010 / 6:44 PM ET

Matt Cooke said after the morning skate that he would be monitored for post-concussion symptoms before deciding if he could play tonight. Seeing as he's out  for warm-ups, he must be good for Game 1. Can't say it's a surprise, considering he practiced Tuesday and skated this morning.

Chris Kunitz also looks to be playing tonight after missing the last four games of the regular season with a shoulder injury.

-- Adam Kimelman

Inside Consol Energy Center

4.14.2010 / 4:04 PM ET

Thanks to Tom McMillan, Penguins vice-president of communications, NHL.com managing editor Shawn Roarke and myself got a first-hand tour of the Penguins' new home starting next season. It's remarkable to see how much progress they've made since I was here for the playoffs last spring. The inside of the building is very bright and open, thanks to mostly glass walls that look out on the Pittsburgh skyline.

The first thing you have to know about the building is it's built into the side of a hill. It's an 80-foot drop from Mellon Arena, on Center Avenue, to Fifth Avenue, where one side of the new building sits. So that presented some unique circumstances, but by the time Consol is done, it might be the envy of the League.

One of the first things fans will notice in the main entrance will be an interactive exhibit featuring an all-time Penguins team, that's currently being voted on by Penguins fans.

Another thing fans will notice immediately is the new center-ice scoreboard. McMillan said the one at Mellon Arena last was updated in 1996, because the roof couldn't support anymore weight. He said there will be more speakers on one side of the scoreboard than there is in all of Mellon Arena.

The seats in the building will be a pretty neat mix of black and gold. The upper and lower concourses will all be open, which McMillan said came after seeing Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota. The shape and look of the upper concouse, he said, comes from Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix.

There will be a suite level at the top of the lower bowl, but there also will be 4-8 seat loge-level boxes. They're not quite suites, but they are set off from the rest of the lower bowl, and McMillan said they would be perfect for a small company looking to buy season tickets but can't afford a full suite. Tom said the folks in Columbus have had a lot of success with that kind of setup at Nationwide Arena.

There will 18,087 seats, and 66 suites when finished. "We're looking for something to do that's 71," McMillan joked.

Speaking of 66 suites, one of the most unique features of the building will be Suite 66, which is located behind the Penguins bench. Fans in this suite will be able to see the players walking on and off the ice before, during and after games.

For the players, the locker room is huge, the players' lounge even bigger. There is a hydrotherapy room and a gym, which McMillan believes will be the biggest in the League.

Covering the next few games in Mellon Arena will be a bit of a let-down after touring the Consol Energy Center, but I'm really looking forward to going to games here next season.

-- Adam Kimelman

Ottawa lines

4.14.2010 / 1:37 PM ET

Here are the lines and defense pairings Ottawa likely will go with tonight:

Peter Regin-Jason Spezza-Daniel Alfredsson

Milan Michalek-Mike Fisher-Matt Cullen

Jarko Ruutu-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil

Nick Foligno-Zack Smith-Jesse Winchester

Anton Volchenkov-Chris Phillips

Andy Sutton-Erik Karlsson

Chris Campoli-Matt Carkner

Also, check NHL.com for Senators coach Cory Clouston, Spezza and Fisher talking about their level of confidence in goalie Brian Elliott. He may be a playoff rookie, but Clouston doesn't see why Elliott couldn't follow in the footsteps of Cam Ward in 2006, Patrick Roy in 1986 and even Ken Dryden in 1971 as playoff newbies who led their team to a Stanley Cup.

-- Adam Kimelman

Game 1 primer

4.14.2010 / 12:00 PM ET

Ottawa at Pittsburgh: 7:00 pm ET -- They haven’t played since Jan. 28, but the Penguins and Senators split the season series 2-2 with the victorious team scoring at least four goals and winning by at least three in each game … The top scorers in the season match-up were Bill Guerin (3-3--6) and Evgeni Malkin (5-0--5) for Pittsburgh while Chris Kelly (3-1--4), Nick Foligno (1-3--4) and Mike Fisher (1-3--4) tied for the lead for Ottawa.

Captain vs. Captain: Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson may not have a goal in seven games heading into the playoffs, but he's no stranger to scoring them against the Penguins -- in 53 games, he has 18 goals and 55 points. While Sidney Crosby is entering the playoffs on a nice little streak; in his last eight games, he had 6 goals and 20 points -- including five games with at least 3 points.

All hands on deck

04.14.2010 / 10:55 AM ET

The Penguins have their full complement of players on the ice this morning at Mellon Arena. Evgeni Malkin (foot) is moving the same way he always does. Chris Kunitz (shoulder), Matt Cooke (concussion), and Brooks Orpik (leg) all look like they'll be good to go tonight against the Senators for Game 1.

On the fun side today, me, NHL.com managing editor Shawn Roarke and Kyle Liggon from NHL Studios might get a guided tour of the brand new Consol Energy Center later today. Check back here for all those details later today.

-- Adam Kimelman