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The Breakaway: Psychological warfare

by Shawn P. Roarke

-- What’s the big deal with Sidney Crosby sitting out Sunday’s final regular-season game? The Penguins were assured a top-two seed in the East and consistently had won without him during his convalescence. Wasn’t it the prudent move to sit him against a physical, desperate Flyers team?

-- Nonetheless, it was a brilliant ploy by Ottawa coach Bryan Murray to suggest Pittsburgh was trying to engineer a more favorable matchup against his Senators by sitting their superstar. Let the mind games begin.

-- With so much psychological warfare going on in the playoffs, it was shocking to see Crosby admit that he and the Penguins were in awe during last year’s playoffs. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the first few games this time around.

-- That said, Crosby and his teammates have to be happy to see Gary Roberts riding to the rescue. He can calm down any situation. Plus, his two goals in Game 1 didn’t hurt.

-- Well, it appears Ryan Whitney is back to being a defenseman. Will his wake-up call – being deployed as a winger – provide the required jolt in his game? We’ll see.

-- Speaking of interesting things to watch, CTN wonders what the over/under is on New York’s Sean Avery running into/over Martin Brodeur. Avery seems to be waging a one-sided war against the goalie, including some incendiary comments in the local papers Monday.

-- Something else to watch in that series is how the Devils try to shut down Jaromir Jagr. It does not appear that Jay Pandolfo will handle that task this time around. Instead, it looks like it will fall to Dainius Zubrus up front and Colin White on the blue line.

-- CTN knows this much, though. If the Devils want to win their series against the Rangers, Brian Gionta better re-find his scoring touch in short order.

-- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have a new disc out. Powerful stuff. Cave writes lyrics like Gordie Howe played hockey – sometimes mean, emotional and straight-ahead, but always captivating.

-- CTN just finished reading John Lescroart’s latest book, The Suspect. A solid read, as always, although CTN would have liked more appearances in it by Dismas Hardy – one of CTN’s favorite book characters of all time.

-- Sometimes the playoffs can be cruel. Nick Schultz has been one of Minnesota’s best all-around defenseman, but now he is out because of an appendectomy. That doesn’t seem fair.

-- One man’s loss, though, is another’s gain. Petteri Nummelin, the odd-man out this season because of injury and inconsistencies, now is a vital part of Minnesota’s plan to advance.

-- It will be interesting to see how Minnesota’s revamped defense – the team also is missing Kurtis Foster – will handle Colorado’s devastating ability to cycle in the attacking zone.

-- Speaking of Colorado, Jordan Leopold was a healthy scratch in Game 1. How does this happen?

-- The Bruins appear to be getting healthy at the right time. Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron are battling to return the lineup, which would be a huge boost for the club.

-- Conversely, the Canadiens could be without both Mike Komisarek and Francois Bouillon in Thursday night’s Game 1.

The Ducks' hopes to get out of the first round could rest on the ability of Todd Bertuzzi and the second line to produce. VIDEO
-- Anaheim’s hopes to get out of the first round could rest on the ability of its second line to produce. It looks like the trio will be comprised of Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Carter and Bobby Ryan. That’s a lot of size, but not much playoff experience.

-- The Ducks might have caught an early break as the Stars have spent the week battling the flu. Mike Ribeiro, Brad Richards and Jere Lehtinen are all coming off bouts with the bug.

-- The Capitals will have to find a way to continue their magic despite a rash of late injuries. Both Shaone Morrisonn and Jeff Schultz missed the final game of the regular season and could be out to start the playoffs.

-- Demolition derbies have been outlawed in most states by now, but that 1970s phenomenon will come back to life in the Washington-Philadelphia series. It will be an old-fashioned State Fair smash-em-up come to life. CTN can’t wait.

-- Miikka Kiprusoff sure looked like the Kiprusoff of old Wednesday night. If this is the goalie that is here to stay in the playoffs, the Sharks better be nervous.

-- CTN was chuffed to bits to see Ryane Clowe score two goals for San Jose in Game 1. It has been a long road back for one of CTN’s favorite players.

-- Speaking of chuffed to bits, CTN was pleased as punch to see Manchester United advance to the semifinals of the Champions League competition. That’s quite the accomplishment for the boys.

-- The draft hopes of Alex Pietrangelo may have taken a bit of a hit this week as he was diagnosed with mononucleosis and will be out for the rest of the season.  


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