Penguins Notebook: Fisher relishes defensive role

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OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jason Spezza centers Ottawa's No. 1 line, and Senators coach Bryan Murray made it known a few days ago that he planned to match Spezza's unit against the Sidney Crosby line at Scotiabank Place last night.

But when the playoffs begin, that duty figures to fall to Mike Fisher, a superb two-way center who has established himself as a top contender for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the NHL's finest defensive forward.

"[Winning the Selke] is a goal of mine, for sure," Fisher said yesterday. "Personally, that's what I strive for."

And what he lives for, at least professionally, is the chance to go head-to-head against the other team's top forwards, which is why he will welcome a chance to face Crosby.

"I think he's the best player in the league, so anytime you get to try to play against them, get that challenge, it's exciting," Fisher said. "All players want to be in the best situation, what they're best at. It would be fun. I don't know how it will all shake out, but, if given the opportunity, I'll look forward to it."

Fisher's line is a safe bet to go against Crosby in the playoffs; barring injury, the defense pairing of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov is an absolute lock to draw that duty, because Murray routinely deploys them against opponents' most talented forwards.

"That's definitely our role," Phillips said. "There's nothing flashy about it."

Student Rush update

The Penguins' wildly popular Student Rush program, under which students could purchase any unsold tickets still available an hour before game time for $20, almost certainly won't come into play during the postseason, but the fans who made the program such a success were not forgotten by the team.

There are roughly 150 standing-room tickets for each playoff game, and the Penguins offered those only to students who had been involved with the program, and for whom the team had contact information.

Those students received a text message giving them an opportunity to participate in a "lottery" that determined how the tickets for the first two home dates of the opening round would be distributed, and more than 1,000 responded.

No secrets

Murray knew before the game last night that the Senators and Penguins pretty much were guaranteed to meet in Round 1 of the playoffs, but said he didn't plan to use it as a dry run for any tactical or personnel wrinkles he is considering. Or, for that matter, to try to conceal anything from the Penguins.

"We're not going to try anything real, real different," he said. "I don't think we have to in this game. It probably is a set-up game for both of us, but we'll play the way we try to play every night.

"I don't think there are many secrets in this business. After 82 games, we all can look at the tape and see what our tendencies are."

Slap shots

Defenseman Micki DuPont of the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre was named a first-team all-star in the American Hockey League. He has 16 goals and 30 assists in 72 games.



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