Penguins Notebook: Therrien says all pressure rests squarely on the Senators
Share with others:
Matchup: Penguins at Ottawa Senators, Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 7:08 p.m. today, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa.
TV, radio: FSN Pittsburgh, Versus (blacked out in Pittsburgh market), WXDX-FM (105.9).
Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Ray Emery for Senators.
Penguins: Were 3-1-0 vs. Senators this season, with two wins coming in shootouts. ... Colby Armstrong, Ryan Whitney and Sidney Crosby each had 4 points in 4 games vs. Ottawa. ... Were tied for ninth-best road-point total, 48.
Senators: Their 288 goals were second in NHL. ... Daniel Alfredsson has 58 points in 79 career playoff games. ... Ranked 13th with 53 points at home.
Hidden stat: The Penguins and Senators have never met in the playoffs.
This is the 10th season in a row Ottawa has made the playoffs, and often the Senators have had a good team expected to contend for a Stanley Cup.
Instead, Ottawa's stay in the playoffs since 1997 has been short: First-round loss, second-round loss, first-round loss in a sweep, first-round loss, first-round loss in a sweep, second-round loss, loss in the conference final, first-round loss, second-round loss.
The Penguins, in contrast, have not been in the playoffs since 2001 and exceeded at least some people's expectations by qualifying for the postseason.
The way Penguins coach Michel Therrien sees it, that puts all the pressure on the Senators in the teams' first-round matchup that begins tonight in Ottawa.
"We're fortunate to be part of this, and we deserve to be part of this because of our hard work, but at the same time we don't have that extra pressure because it's the playoffs," Therrien said. "I don't feel my players are feeling the extra pressure.
"We play against a team that will have a lot of pressure. They're always a team that has pressure to win the Stanley Cup. We're probably going to be there in a few years, to feel that kind of pressure, but right now our team has a lot of fun together. There's great chemistry."
Ottawa coach Bryan Murray spent six full seasons and parts of two others behind the Washington Capitals' bench, so he has faced the Penguins more than a few times in his career.
This playoff series will be a bit different than his days with the Capitals, because Murray now oversees a team with offensive firepower. His clubs in Washington got by mostly on team defense.
"We always tried to defend and keep the goals-against down to give yourself a chance," he said. "It's quite different.
"You have to score goals, there's no question. No matter how well you play defensively, [the Penguins] are going to create offense. They're going to score goals on you. Being able to match -- we hope -- their level certainly is important."
Good company to keep
Penguins rookie forward Jordan Staal is the 48th 18-year-old to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs, a group that includes prominent names such as Gordie Howe (1947), Steve Yzerman (1984), Eddie Olczyk (1985), Mike Modano (1989), Rod Brind'Amour (1989), Jarome Iginla (1996) and Joe Thornton (1998). The only two 18-year-olds who have been on Stanley Cup winning teams were Gaye Stewart with Toronto in 1942 and Larry Hillman with Detroit in '55.
Been there, done that
This will be Staal's first NHL playoff experience but not his first playoff experience in Ottawa.
His junior team, the Peterborough Petes, played the Ottawa 67s in the playoffs the past two seasons, losing two years ago and winning in six games in 2005-06.
"I always hated playing Ottawa. I'm not going to lie," Staal said. "It just seemed like every year they were one of our big rivalries."
Good attendance numbers
The Penguins were among 16 teams that drew 97 percent of capacity or better to their home games as the NHL set a record with a total attendance of 20,861,787 for an average crowd of 16,961.
The league's average attendance rose each month during the 2006-07 season: 16,537 in October, 16,538 in November, 16,850 in December, 17,075 in January, 17,146 in February, 17,331 in March and 17,749 in April.
No war of words
Therrien declined to respond to comments his Ottawa counterpart made Monday -- Murray, for example, said, "However, we're treated, we'll treat the other team" when it comes to issues like ice time for the visiting club -- but did offer a theory.
"They have a lot of pressure," Therrien said. "And they feel the pressure. ... We're not going to start to concentrate on Bryan Murray's comments.
"Maybe I should give him a call, to ask what time he wants the ice if it's a concern for him when he's going to be in Pittsburgh."
Playoff tickets on sale today
About 2,000 individual game tickets for the Penguins' third playoff home game will go on sale at 10 a.m. today. Individual game tickets for the first two games sold out in 13 minutes, so the suggested way to buy tickets today is online at www.ticketmaster.com, although they will be available at Mellon Arena Gate One box office, TicketMaster locations and by calling 412-323-1919.
First Published April 10, 2007 11:45 pm