Penguins Notebook: Boston or Montreal will be second-round foe
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Monday, the Penguins had four possible playoff opponents to ponder for the second round. Tuesday, that number was two after the Boston Bruins eliminated the Buffalo Sabres in six games.
The Penguins know they will play the Bruins or the Montreal Canadiens in the second round. The opponent will be Boston if host Washington beats Montreal in Game 7 tonight. It will be Montreal if the Canadiens win.
The Penguins spent most of their hour on the ice Tuesday morning working on their game with an eye toward the future.
"There are certain things, certain habits, parts of our game plan that won't change based on the team we play," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "There are parts of the game plan between the two options that will be the same." And some of it definitely will change once they know their opponent.
"You try to get into habits and things you want your team to do and also try to start on something that regardless of who you play won't change. As a coaching staff, we're starting to prepare for both because we won't have enough time to wait and see."
Bylsma and members of his staff said they watched the games Monday night from a fan's perspective as well as a coach's perspective.
"Obviously, with the potential matchups, you're looking to see if you can find something out," assistant coach Tony Granato said. "We know most of the teams. We played them at least four times or six times already this year. We know the personnel pretty well and how they're playing.
"You still watch to see if they are doing anything different. If they're using different units on special teams. Or what kind of line combinations they're going with. You still try to stay ahead of the curve a little bit but you're watching it as a fan as well."
The NHL will not announce second-round dates until after today, but the Penguins' second-round series likely will start Friday or Sunday.
A game cannot be played at Mellon Arena Saturday because Point Park University is holding commencement ceremonies there.
Sergei Gonchar has a special place in the Penguins' playoff lore.
The veteran defenseman has played in three of the franchise's four longest playoff games. Not only that, but he also was on the ice when all three games ended.
Gonchar added to his playoff memoirs last week when he played in the fourth-longest game in club history against the Ottawa Senators, a 4-3 loss in triple overtime. He also played in the third-longest game in franchise history and got an assist when Petr Sykora scored the winner in triple overtime of Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup final against Detroit.
When Gonchar was playing for the Washington Capitals in 1996, he played against the Penguins in the second-longest playoff game. Gonchar was positioned in front of the net when Petr Nedved's shot sent the Penguins to victory.
"It's interesting how things work out sometimes," Gonchar said.
"I remember the one in Washington. That was a long one. I played like 70-something minutes."
First-line winger Chris Kunitz did not participate in practice Tuesday.
Ruslan Fedotenko took Kunitz's place on the first line alongside Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin.
"Dealing with the effects of a physical series," Bylsma said of Kunitz. "He's day to day."
Winger Tyler Kennedy, who missed the final two games of the Ottawa series with a lower-body injury, and Jordan Leopold, who missed the final four games of the Ottawa series with a head injury, also did not practice.
First Published April 28, 2010 12:00 am