It's no choke!

Sens coach Bryan Murray talks with Jason Spezza during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa last...

Sens coach Bryan Murray talks with Jason Spezza during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa last week. (Sun Media/Sean Kilpatrick)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

Senators coach Bryan Murray sounded like he was ready to choke somebody yesterday.

As the Senators prepared to meet the Penguins in the opening round of the Eastern Conference post-season beginning tomorrow, Murray's first order of business was to address the "choking dog" brush -- his words -- that he's sick of seeing his team painted with.

"I think it's bulls--t," said Murray.

"When you get a chance to play in the playoffs, that's a real good thing for the organization. Ask the other teams that haven't been in (the playoffs) for a few years.

"I don't know what's better: Being in or being out? I would think being in should be and I would think we should be recognized for that. All you ask for is a chance and we'd like (the media) to give us a chance as much as the players and the rest of the world give us a chance."

LOSSES TO LEAFS

While Murray's argument is valid, he hasn't been around for the entire decade of disappointment in the post-season, which has included three series losses to the Leafs.

The Senators have seen a lot of their success in the regular season fizzle in the playoffs --including last year's second-round exit against the Sabres in five games.

"(The choker label) is going to be there until we win," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson. "At the end of the year, 29 teams are not going to win (the Stanley Cup) and only one team is going to win. We've got to be happy with where we are in having a chance to play forward. I know I'm excited.

"We haven't won the Stanley Cup. We've put ourselves in positions where we've put high expectations on ourselves, and outsiders have done that as well, and we haven't lived up to it. I'm happy we get another shot at it and, hopefully, we can make the most of it."

Until they prove otherwise, the Senators know they're going to face questions about their past.

"The only way you can get rid (of the reputation) is by showing up and winning," said centre Jason Spezza. "We are a different team than maybe the teams in the past that got beaten by the Leafs. There are not too many guys left in the room that were around then and those guys who are still here are here for a reason: They're good character guys.

"It's been blown out of proportion a bit, but until you do win and you go deep, you're always going to be looked as an underachiever."

BETTER THAN HABS

Murray said the 48 wins and 105 points the Senators had during the regular season means a lot because the club is going to get a chance to be in the playoffs.

That's something neither the Leafs nor Canadiens can say.

"You have to look at the year and I think it was a good year. The regular season means something," said Murray. "Ask 14 teams that aren't in. That's a real compliment to our organization. I'm not sure what a 'choking dog' is, but very definitely, the fact that we're in and have a chance, is a compliment to the organization. We have an opportunity to do something a lot of teams won't have a chance to do." 


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