|Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says his team can benefit from some rest before starting Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.|
by Todd Anderson
The Ottawa Senators have reached the first checkpoint in their journey to become Stanley Cup champions. After being given two days of rest as a reward for knocking off the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games in Round 1, the club will return to practice tomorrow in preparation of a second-round matchup against the New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who has played in all of the club's 84 playoff games, has learned the importance of resting when you have the opportunity during the playoffs.
"Now we're getting our bodies ready," Alfredsson said during a conference call this morning. "When we know who we'll play (in Round 2), we'll get our minds ready."
Senators general manager John Muckler, who also held a conference call this morning, was pleased to see the Senators advance through the opening round so quickly.
"I think it's important to have a short run in your first series," Muckler says. "We do have some bruises and minor injuries. A few days will heal that. I think it is important we get some rest. I think everybody will be anxious now to get back and play again."
While Ottawa, the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Rangers have clinched a berth in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning are still battling in their first-round series. The Devils lead the Lightning 3-2 and will face Ottawa if they win. A Tampa Bay win would result in the Senators facing off against the Rangers.
"Both teams play very well defensively," Alfredsson says of the Rangers and Devils. "Both teams have good goaltending. I think New Jersey has really made a name for (itself) by trapping, where the Rangers might be a little more offensive. (New York's) top players are really good if they're going."
Muckler says it doesn't matter who the team meets, the key factor for the Senators is to focus on what they can control themselves.
"They're all good hockey clubs. The further you go into the Stanley Cup playoffs, you meet better teams in each round," Muckler says. "I'm not concerned about the other teams. I like our team. We have confidence in our hockey club. We trust our players, and our players trust each other."