Ruutu lines up friends

CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 1:34 PM ET

STOCKHOLM -- Jarkko Ruutu is a world-class agitator who will be on a world stage today.

The Senators winger is doubly pumped making his debut for Ottawa because it's against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team he left as a free agent this summer.

"Obviously there's a little bit of emotion, but as soon I hit the ice there's no friends," said Ruutu after the Senators practised at the Globe Arena. "I'm sure the (Pittsburgh) guys think the same way. They're probably trying to kill me ... well, it's even then."

Ruutu was asked by a Pittsburgh reporter how he gets along with Penguins forward Matt Cooke, another agitator and a former teammate with the Vancouver Canucks who moved over to take Ruutu's place with the Pens.

"Good. We only had one tilt in practice," said Ruutu of their time together with the Canucks.

Who won, he was asked.

"I don't remember," he said, slyly. "You'll have to ask somebody else."

Given his knowledge of his old Pittsburgh teammates, he should have some kind of advantage today, like what buttons to push.

"Everybody knows their secrets. You throw the top guys out there and try and shut them down. They probably know me way too well, too. They won't fall for the old tricks," said Ruutu.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said Ruutu was tapped for a scouting report. Did he come up with much?

"A couple of things, nothing major," said Alfredsson. "He's given us a few hints on who to tease and what not."

HEAR AND THERE

The talk here is Mats Sundin, international man of mystery, will be dropping the puck for the ceremonial faceoff for today's game. "I'm going to hand him my stick," said Alfredsson. But another come-on to Sundin won't be coming from the Senators captain. "No, I don't think I'll be making a sales pitch. Obviously, we would have loved to have had him like anybody else, but we'll see what happens." ... With the Penguins missing wheelhorses Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney on the blue line because of injuries, forward Evgeni Malkin has been on the point.

REVELATIONS

Alfredsson had bad news for all those Frolunda fans who gave him such a wonderful welcome earlier this week. They chanted "Alfie to Sweden," but he quashed any speculation he might return to Sweden to play out his final year or two of hockey. "I've thought about it and I'm pretty sure it won't happen," he said. "I'll play in the NHL as long as I feel I can perform and feel motivated. Once that stops, you just can't go back and play one year just for fun. If you want to play in the Swedish league or any of the top leagues in Europe, you have to commit yourself 100% because otherwise it will be a very long year. I'll play as long as I can in the NHL and once that's over, my career is over." ... To the people who asked how the Frolunda Indians got their nickname, here's the story as heard by Senators PR man Brian Morris. In the 1970s, Frolunda played firewagon hockey and was beset by front office instability. Some people said the crazy environment was like the American old West. So, when teams started getting nicknames here, they had a choice: Cowboys or Indians.

SPECULATIONS

One of the big questions going into the season is how the Senators D is going to come together. Will the six guys -- Chris Phillips, Anton Volchenkov, Jason Smith, Filip Kuba, Alexandre Picard and Brian Lee -- fit together in well-defined roles? They're strong defensively as a group, but can they get the puck to the forwards on a consistent basis? "Our puck movement and transition is an area we have to continue to address," said Senators coach Craig Hartsburg. "We've got big, strong guys and should be able to win those battles along the wall and protect the front of the net." Hartsburg has them grouped now, but he's not shy about shaking things up. "You start the game with six, but that doesn't mean you're always going to play the three pairs all the time together. I think Picard has played enough and has enough experience that we feel comfortable he can eat some minutes up."

THE BUZZ

Globe Arena had to be reconfigured from international dimensions for today's game. It's not exactly NHL size, coming in at 196 feet. The glass on the sides of the rink is about six inches shorter than a normal NHL rink, but an extra six feet of higher glass has been added along the corners. ... When the Frolunda crowd was chanting about Alfredsson the other night, some of the Senators entourage joined in. "What are we saying?" they asked some locals. "Alfie (back) to Sweden," was the reply. They stopped chanting.


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