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Senators' depth players need to chip in

Wednesday, 04.25.2007 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Ottawa Senators
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Senators\' depth players need to chip in
Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza, right, will go head-to-head with New Jersey Devils centre John Madden in Round 2. Photo: J. McIsaac/Getty Images/NHLI

by Todd Anderson

Each Ottawa Senators line contributed to the team's success in Round 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and that will have to continue against the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference semifinals. With the Devils checking line of John Madden, Jay Pandolfo and Sergei Brylin expected to challenge the Senators' top line of Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley, other units will have to chip in for Ottawa.

"We have a well-balanced team. We have confidence in the guys we have here. We have some good players on every line," Senators centre Antoine Vermette says. "We're really focused on our game. If you look at our first series, I thought every guy had to play in certain situations. That's good that guys can play in different roles."

While the Senators acknowledge the defensive expertise of Madden and the Devils, they have confidence they can still make things happen offensively.

"The challenge is to not get frustrated," Senators centre Jason Spezza says of the Devils' persistence at slowing down games with their defensive style and patience. "We have to make sure we stick to our plan and keep moving our feet and cycling the puck. We'll get lots of chances. We just have to make sure when we get them that we put them in the net.

"If we can roll four lines and we're fresh when we go up against those guys, hopefully we're a little more of a handful for them."

Heatley adds that while Madden's line has a solid reputation of being a shutdown unit, you have to be aware of its scoring abilities as well.

"They're a line that thrives on shutting guys down, but at the same time, they can score some goals, too, if you're not responsible in your own end. They're going to check us tight. We've got to get the puck down low and do our thing from there. We know we can score goals against them. It's just a matter of doing it."

Senators head coach Bryan Murray agrees with Heatley that maybe the Devils' reputation as a defence team overshadows the offensive abilities of stars in their lineup.

"They don't give up a lot of great scoring chances. Defence is a priority, but I don't think we should ever underrate their top two lines," Murray says. "They've got quick people who score goals. The (Scott) Gomez line is a threat almost every time they're on the ice, and there's no question (Zach) Parisé has become what everybody thought when they saw him in junior. He's a top player now."

Still, Murray has all the confidence that any one of his lines will match up well against New Jersey's top two units.

"I thought our fourth line in the Pittsburgh series created lots of havoc. They were probably the best hitting group I have, and they all skate so well. If I get caught out there with the Gomez line against (Ottawa's Dean) McAmmond's, I'm okay with that."




1 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
2 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
3 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
4 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
5 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
6 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
7 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
8 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47


E. Karlsson 54 11 48 9 59
B. Ryan 53 19 26 -2 45
M. Hoffman 50 23 18 5 41
M. Stone 52 16 25 -10 41
M. Zibanejad 53 11 22 -1 33
K. Turris 48 13 17 -11 30
J. Pageau 54 13 10 6 23
Z. Smith 53 11 5 7 16
C. Ceci 47 5 11 -1 16
C. Lazar 49 5 9 0 14
C. Anderson 22 17 4 .914 2.86
A. Hammond 3 5 2 .900 3.10