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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 2:49 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators not focused on Alfredsson's future

PITTSBURGH -- If the Ottawa Senators are at all worried about the possibility of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday being the final game of their captain's career, they aren't talking as if they are.

"Well, if it is, we'll make it a fun one," defenseman Erik Karlsson said with a smile about Daniel Alfredsson.

"He was dangling me in 'keep away' all morning," defenseman Marc Methot said, referring to the common morning-skate drill. "So if you ask me, he's got a couple years left under his belt."

The Senators kept a loose, upbeat posture throughout the morning skate and after it Friday, but a loss in Game 5 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) would have serious ramifications. Not only would it eliminate Ottawa from the Stanley Cup Playoffs and end its season, it could end the career of the franchise's longtime captain.

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Posted On Friday, 05.24.2013 / 1:56 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators set to unite Spezza, Alfredsson, Michalek

PITTSBURGH -- If the Ottawa Senators are going down, they're going down with their most talented and experienced forwards skating together to start a game in which they're facing elimination.

Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek have combined for 2,338 regular-season NHL games and 2,084 points. The trio was united for line rushes during the morning skate in advance of Friday's Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

With Ottawa down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, coach Paul MacLean said he'd have his tenured trio out on the ice for the opening faceoff in an attempt to steer momentum the Senators' way.

"That's a line we can always go back to," MacLean said. "Obviously they're a veteran threesome that's played a number of games in the League. We've always felt we could go to that, just because they're veteran players. The start of the game hasn't been very good for us these first four games; maybe if we start veterans out on the ice at the beginning of the game it can have a calming effect on the rest of the group."

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 1:41 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Benoit, Latendresse back in for Senators

PITTSBURGH -- After sitting and watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the past two weeks, Andre Benoit and Guillaume Latendresse are eager to make an impact for the Ottawa Senators.

Coach Paul MacLean confirmed both will be in the lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

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Posted On Friday, 05.17.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Spezza return could come as early as Game 3

PITTSBURGH -- It won't be for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday night, but Jason Spezza continues to inch closer to a return to the Ottawa Senators lineup.

The team won't rule out the chance his 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs debut will come Sunday.

Coach Paul MacLean said he expects Spezza to join the team for what figures to be an optional practice in Ottawa on Saturday. Spezza, who hasn't played since Jan. 27 because of a back injury that required surgery, has been skating on his own in Ottawa in recent days and MacLean reported the center is making progress.

"We will see him [Saturday] and we'll go through [Saturday's] practice and the pregame skate for Sunday and we'll see where it is," MacLean said after the morning skate Friday at Consol Energy Center. "But if he's available to us, you know, it's Jason Spezza. We're going to have him in the lineup if he's available."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 5:00 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Neal, Iginla show flexibility in switching wings

PITTSBURGH -- While outsiders fret over the thought putting usual right wings James Neal and Jarome Iginla on the same line, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma has a quick quip of a retort.

"The best thing I can tell you is that James Neal never played the right side when he got here," Bylsma said. "He said, 'I only play the left.' I said, 'That's great, that's four or five minutes a game you won't be playing with Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby.'

"He circled back around and he said, 'Hey, I'll try the right.'"

Bylsma's point was that forwards can make it work if put in the right situation -- even if on an unfamiliar wing. And with the Penguins tending to stick with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis as Crobsy's wings, that leaves Neal and Iginla for Malkin.

Nice consolation prize. From one Hart Trophy winner to another as your center.

"I've been really lucky to get a chance to play with both Sid and Geno," said Iginla, who was acquired from the Calgary Flames in a March 28 trade. "The lines do shake up however the flow of the game is gong. We're prepared to play whatever the dynamic is."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.16.2013 / 4:30 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators look to Latendresse for physical spark

PITTSBURGH -- Over the 48 hours since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday night, Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean has taken virtually any opportunity to talk about how his team's competition level and physicality needed to improve if they had a chance of beating the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Enter 6 feet, 2 inches and 230 pounds of competition level and physicality.

Guillaume Latendresse was with the Senators' third line during practice Thursday and appears poised to be part of Ottawa's lineup for Game 2 of the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I'm pretty excited, that's for sure, and very happy to have a chance to play again and be part of the team," Latendresse said.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.15.2013 / 3:59 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators have options on defense if Gryba can't go

PITTSBURGH -- While not flatly ruling hulking defenseman Eric Grybe out for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators coach coach Paul MacLean said the team has contingency plans for who might take Gryba's place.

"If Gryba's not available, [Mike] Lundin and [Andre] Benoit are here with us," MacLean said after an optional practice Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. "[Patrick] Wiercioch, right now, I'd say is not available with a lower-body injury, but we'll have discussions on that."

Gryba left the ice after a collision with Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik late during the second period of Pittsburgh's 4-1 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday. The Senators said he has an upper-body injury that will be evaluated.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 2:48 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Senators to focus on their strengths

PITTSBURGH -- The raw numbers are striking -- and strikingly simple.

The Pittsburgh Penguins led the NHL in goals during the regular season; the Ottawa Senators were the Eastern Conference's best team at preventing them.

So the seventh-seeded Senators know what style of play they will turn to in hopes of succeeding in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 1 is Tuesday ((7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN) here at Consol Energy Center.

"Giving them odd-man rushes, with their skill, is not going to work to our favor," Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "So we want to play a disciplined game -- but also not just play a passive game. We want to get engaged and get the forecheck going. That's how we're going to generate our chances."

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 2:08 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Kennedy, Vitale staying in Penguins' lineup

PITTSBURGH -- Tyler Kennedy will be keeping his spot in the Pittsburgh Penguins' lineup when the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Ottawa Senators opens Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said it's not just because of Kennedy's inspired play late in the previous round, either.

During the morning skate in advance of Game 1 Tuesday, Pittsburgh showed the same line combinations and defense pairings it did during practice Monday. That means the only apparent change from the lineup Bylsma employed for victories in Games 5 and 6 of the first-round win against the New York Islanders is Deryk Engelland in for Simon Despres on defense.

"It's not just what happened in the first round for our team and the players who played in the first round when it comes to our lineup and the decisions we make," Bylsma said.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.14.2013 / 1:49 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Senators series blog

Vokoun starting in goal for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- The man at the forefront might have been the only person explicitly and formally informed of a decision from Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma that everyone awaited.

Tomas Vokoun informed reporters Tuesday morning that he would be the team's starting goaltender against the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN).

"I'm not surprised," defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He played really well in what was a tough situation to come into like he did last series. He came in after having not played in a while and shut the door."

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Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins