Penguins Notebook: Looking ahead not an option


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OTTAWA -- The Penguins have known since Philadelphia finished off New Jersey Thursday that the survivor of their opening-round series with Ottawa almost certainly would face the winner of the Buffalo-Boston series in Round 2.

The only way that would not happen is if eighth-seeded Montreal can rally from what was a 3-1 deficit (now 3-2, after the Canadiens' 2-1 victory in Washington Friday) and knock off the top-seeded Capitals.

Even so, Penguins defenseman Jay McKee said after the game-day skate Saturday before Game 6 at Scotiabank Place that his teammates, while aware of what has been going on around the league, have not paid any particular attention to the Sabres and Bruins.

"There's no focus past this one at all," he said.

Just hanging out

There was a hospitality room for the players at the resort where the Penguins stayed on their trips to Ottawa. Guess what they did there?

"Pretty much all we do is watch [other playoff games] and play video games," defenseman Brooks Orpik said.

"I think all the series have been entertaining and competitive."

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said a few guys would rather get away from the game on their down time, but he is not one of them.

"I think it's more just enjoyment," he said. "We've got a group of guys together just hanging out. It's a fun time of year. I think it's just more to relax.

"Some guys prefer not to watch as much. Some guys like to get away; some guys like to watch it. I like to watch it. It's interesting to see what goes on. It's fun to see the intensity and things like that."

That's only natural, McKee said. "I think there'd be something wrong with guys if they didn't. It's entertaining.

"I think it's the best hockey, the best sport, especially at this level, in the playoffs. There have been a lot of good games, a lot of exciting games."

It's no different for the Senators.

"I'm still watching hockey on my off days and following other teams," Ottawa center Zack Smith said. "They're almost all really close games, exciting games, with a few dramatic overtime wins."

Conner gets a start

Right winger Chris Conner, recalled from the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre Friday, dressed for his second- NHL playoff game Saturday night. He replaced Ruslan Fedotenko, who was scratched for the fourth time in the series.

Conner said he prepared for the game like any other, but added that, "I just want to be ready and, if I get a chance, bring what I can to the table."

That, coach Dan Bylsma said, is speed, along with more grit than might be expected of a guy who is 5 feet 8, 180 pounds.

"You look at the diminutive size ... but he always seems to be able to add a spark with his speed, and it's not just in the neutral zone, where it seems there'd be more ice to skate into," Bylsma said.

"It's coming out of the corners, as well, and that's what he's been able to do."

Conner, who made his playoff debut with Dallas in 2008, had two goals and one assist in eight regular-season appearances with the Penguins.

By design, not by accident

It is no accident that Ottawa has piled up blocked shots in the series.

"It's definitely a system thing," Senators coach Cory Clouston said before Game 6. "We know that against a team as skilled as Pittsburgh, where they try and put a lot of shots to the net, we definitely want to get as many bodies in the shooting lane as we possibly can."

Ottawa entered Saturday night third among playoff teams with 108 blocked shots. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov led with 26, including 11 in the Senators' 4-3, triple-overtime win in Game 5 when they had 46.


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721; Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com


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