Extra days off for TV getting good reception

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There will be two sets of two-day breaks in the second-round playoff series between the Penguins and Ottawa Senators -- one now between Games 1 and 2, another between Games 3 and 4.

Those are designed to accommodate television, not to benefit the teams, but a sampling of Penguins players showed most don't have feelings about the extra time off and those who do like it.

"I don't really care," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "At first, they told us we had two days off between [Games] 1 and 2, then back-to-back [days] for 2 and 3. That didn't make too much sense to us.

"From a playing standpoint, as long as we're not playing back-to-back, I don't think anyone minds. I don't mind having two days off, that's for sure."

Right winger Tyler Kennedy agreed.

"I think rest is always a good thing right now," he said. "At the end of the year, the more rest you get, the more you can prepare for the game and the better it is for the team."

The Penguins won the opener Tuesday, 4-1. Game 2 won't be played until Friday night.

"You do want to keep playing, keep the excitement going. But, at the same time, guys are dealing with little injuries," Penguins winger James Neal said. "You can rest up and get ready. It's going to be a long series. We know that, so added rest is always good."

Coach Dan Bylsma backed Kennedy and Neal's assessment, but he downplayed the idea that the longer breaks would be momentum-killers.

"You get an extra day's rest, and it means something for injuries and getting some rest," Bylsma said. "But games don't carry over as much as you'd like them to, momentum game to game. That certainly will be the case between [Games] 1 and 2, and 3 and 4."

Both teams held optional practices Wednesday. Bylsma called it a "purposeful" day.

"[In addition to] rest and recover, we treated it as a practice, but a practice off the ice with our [team] meeting," Bylsma said.

Familiar with MacLean, sort of

Bylsma recalled that when he played in the International Hockey League in the 1990s, Paul MacLean was an opposing coach. MacLean, now Ottawa's coach, also was an NHL assistant with Anaheim when Bylsma played for the Ducks.

"He was the power-play coach," Bylsma said, then paused and smiled because he was a penalty-killing type of player, not one to get time on the power play.

"I didn't see a lot of him," Bylsma said. "We passed in the hallway and stuff."

Senators understand playoffs

There was significant hostility during Game 1, with lots of hitting and more than a few cross-checks and slashes.

Orpik, an active participant in much of that, said he didn't believe the animosity level was higher than usual for a series opener, although he said the Senators' playoff experience had them prepared to plunge into a Game 1.

The New York Islanders, the Penguins' first-round opponent, hadn't qualified for the postseason since 2007, and Orpik suggested that made them tentative in what became a 5-0 loss in Game 1.

"This is a team that's used to playing in the playoffs," he said. "The Islanders, I think they kind of tiptoed into that series. I think that was evident in the way they played the first game."

Conacher remains confident

Ottawa was beaten in Game 1, but not beaten down, and Senators winger Cory Conacher came out of the opener confident Ottawa isn't overmatched.

"I think we proved to ourselves that we can beat this team," he said. "Pittsburgh is a good team. That's why they're [seeded] No 1.

"But [in Game 1], we saw that we had those opportunities. We've just got to capitalize. If we had done that, it might have been a different story."

He went on to suggest there might be one of those in Game 2.

"We know how to beat them," Conacher said. "We know we can beat them. We know can play with them. We just have to try and take the fans out of it and get the first goal on Friday."

Tip-ins

Eleven players skated in the Penguins' optional workout at Consol Energy Center: forwards Dustin Jeffrey, Beau Bennett, Craig Adams, Jussi Jokinen and Tanner Glass, defensemen Roberto Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Deryk Engelland and Mark Eaton and goalies Marc-Andre Fleury and Eric Hartzell. ... There was no update on Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba, who left Game 1 after absorbing a hit by Orpik, but MacLean stopped short of saying Gryba would not play in Game 2. ... MacLean ruled center Jason Spezza out for Game 2. Spezza had back surgery in February.

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For much 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, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.


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