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Answering the bell with physical play

Friday, 04.13.2007 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Answering the bell with physical play
Senators forward Mike Comrie waits for a pass today during practice at the Bell Sensplex in Ottawa. Comrie was praised for sticking up for a teammate during a skirmish in Game 1 against Pittsburgh. Photo: T. Anderson/OSHC

by Todd Anderson

When the going gets tough in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Ottawa Senators have what it takes to match anything thrown their way. As demonstrated late in Game 1's 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, it can come from unexpected sources as well.

Both captain Daniel Alfredsson and forward Mike Comrie, who are known more for their offensive abilities than their toughness, became involved in scuffles late in the game to defend teammates. Defenceman Chris Phillips says their desire didn't go unnoticed.

"That's what playoff hockey is all about. Everyone's got to do their job no matter what their role is on the team, but at the same time, everyone is expected to do a little bit more without trying to do too much. A lot of times that's being physical, blocking shots and just doing little things that might not be characteristics of certain players."

Forward Chris Neil was also impressed with his club's willingness to set the tone early - Ottawa outhit Pittsburgh 14-7 in the first period. The NHL's leader in 2006-07 with 288 hits, Neil has stressed the importance of making every bodycheck count all season.

"It's not just three or four guys out there hitting, you've got everyone stepping into guys," Neil says. "That's what it's about. If you can rub a guy out, it wears on them over the course of a seven-game series. Their D that play a lot of minutes, or their forwards, you've got to play physical on them."

With Ottawa leading Game 1 convincingly, Pittsburgh started to hit a little more during the dying minutes of the third period. Neil says his team responded adequately to the increased intensity.

"They were just trying to get something going. They've got a bunch of guys like that. They don't quit. They just keep going. We've got a lot of respect for them in this dressing room. I think we answered the bell and I think coming into Game 2 we've got to step it up a couple of notches because they'll be better."

Neil doesn't mind if Game 2 starts off with the same intensity as Game 1 finished with, either.

"It's a part of my game and it will always be a part of my game. The fans love it, and I think it makes for a very interesting series by the end of it."

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
2 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
3 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
4 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
5 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
6 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
7 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
8 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Karlsson 56 11 51 7 62
B. Ryan 55 19 26 -3 45
M. Hoffman 52 24 19 4 43
M. Stone 54 17 25 -13 42
M. Zibanejad 55 11 22 -3 33
K. Turris 50 13 17 -12 30
J. Pageau 56 13 10 4 23
Z. Smith 55 12 5 4 17
C. Ceci 49 5 11 -2 16
C. Lazar 51 5 10 1 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Anderson 22 18 4 .914 2.84
A. Hammond 3 6 2 .899 3.10