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With schedule released, Penguins gear up again

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- Douglas Murray doesn't input his week's plan into a Blackberry, and he doesn't plot out a training schedule with a pad and pencil.

Still, the hulking Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman said he prefers to look ahead when settling into a routine.

Finally, Murray and the Penguins know what's coming when.

The NHL released the schedule for the Eastern Conference Finals late Tuesday night, ending a four-day period in which the Penguins were in limbo. Pittsburgh, which eliminated the Ottawa Senators with a Game 5 conference semifinal victory Friday, opens the series with the Boston Bruins on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Consol Energy Center (NBC, CBC, RDS).

"You always want to know the schedule, for sure," Murray said. "You base your everyday decisions on it. It's not like I write up a schedule or anything, but when you've done this for as long as you have, you learn to manage your time. You know when it feels best for your body to get that extra massage that you might want or when it's time to rest and time to make sure you don't lay around all day.

"People change their routines once they know the schedule, and I think it's good we know now."

Coach Dan Bylsma had been operating day-to-day when it came to a practice schedule. As recently as Sunday, he talked as if he wasn't ruling out a Tuesday start to the series.

Like most of his players, Bylsma took a pragmatic approach to the schedule, which includes games on alternating days until Game 7, which, if necessary, would be played the day after Game 6.

"These are things that are well out of my control and I'm not asked about," Bylsma said. "We're happy to be included in the schedule."

The Penguins twice advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in recent years, and there are recent additions to the team who are veteran enough they've experienced schedules of various quirks such as an abundance of idle time.

The consensus among players is that they'd play any day, any time, if it meant a chance to get closer to claiming the Stanley Cup.

"Having been through one of these long breaks in the playoffs before, the first couple days after (advancing) you kind of come down from the high," wing Jarome Iginla said. "Every second day, you're always ready (to play), so you're always 'on.'

"It's nice to get to those first few days at a slower pace, but now it's building up again since we know when we're playing. Today was an intense practice, and tomorrow will be again. It's all all about gearing up for being ready to go full-throttle right out of the gate Saturday."

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