April 5, 2012
Cheapseats: Sens-Bruins could be a dandy
By Don Brennan, QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - A Senators-Bruins first round playoff series could be the second best the East has to offer.
That is, if the Senators are able to make it a series.
The marquee matchup promises to be Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, simply because the Flyers and Penguins have a hatred for one another to go along with a penchant for violent behaviour.
The Senators and Bruins could wind up playing each other just as hard, if not harder. They just don't have the history. Yet.
What they do have, however, is two of the toughest teams in the NHL.
Chris Neil, Matt Carkner, Zack Smith, Nick Foligno, Jared Cowen and (possibly) Zenon Konopka on one side; Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, Adam McQuaid, Johnny Boychuck and Gregory Campbell on the other.
Yup, the potential is there for it to be a dandy.
"I'd say they're up there," Smith said when asked if the Bruins were the toughest team in the league. "But we're not far behind by any means.
"Toughness wise, for guys that can fight and play, I think we match up well against them."
Disappointingly, not much of the expected message-sending was evident Thursday in what was expected to be a series preview. If ever there was going to be some glove-dropping or other such nastiness, this one provided the perfect opportunity.
The Senators especially will have to pick up their intensity level if they are to engage the defending champs in what could be the second best first round playoff series the East has to offer.
STARTS AND STOPS
You get the feeling Paul MacLean has been biting his tongue about the officiating for months. Late in the third period, he stopped biting. It resulted in his first game misconduct as Ottawa's coach. If you're a Senators fan, you can't help but like to see a passionate outburst coming from a spot where Jacques Martin once stood ... The mind games have already begun. Asked at the morning skate about the potential of facing the Senators in the playoffs, Bruins winger Brad Marchand replied: "We have to try to find a way to match how fast they play and shut them down. It will be very tough. They've got a great team. We'll just try to keep up." The B's B-squad kept up just fine Thursday ... Trying to make a rare hit, Filip Kuba put himself out of position on Boston's first goal ... For the record, the Anton Khudobin who stopped the first 28 Senators shots he faced and was sensational throughout was a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2004 who was playing in his seventh NHL game. In other words, he's no Tim Thomas ... You have to assume the Senators will pull out all stops Saturday in New Jersey, if only to avoid going into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak.
STUFF I THINK I THUNK
Brian Rolston may look like a 47-year-old linesman out of his equipment, but he was a pain for the Senators, first setting up the Benoit Pouliot goal, then slashing one of Jason Spezza's very valuable knees ... The line of Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Tyler Seguin just danced its way around the Senators zone on one second-period shift. Slowing it down in the playoffs will be priority No. 1 for Ottawa ... Is Ben Bishop the only goalie in the league who doesn't have a water bottle on the back of his net? You might think he's part camel, except camels don't come that tall ... He didn't do it on purpose, but after the puck bounced out of the net and to him after Lucic's third-period goal, Kuba whipped it very close to where the big B's winger skated in celebration. Had it hit him, things could have turned ugly for Kuba.
With his 34th goal, Jason Spezza has tied his career high ... It's not official, but a Senators-Bruins series would almost certainly see games played next Thursday and Saturday in Boston, then the following Monday and Thursday back in Ottawa. If they stick to their previous routines, the B's would not hang around the nation's capital between Games 3 and 4 ... Marchand got away with giving Erik Karlsson two crosschecks to the back in behind the play during the first period. That's playing smart hockey, on Marchand's part. Unless somebody does something soon, the little Bruin is going to be a distracting pain in Karlsson's backside for the next week or two ... A game that started painfully slow picked up a bit in the second, when Khudobin made outstanding saves off Foligno (his second of the period against No. 71) and Jesse Winchester, while Bishop stoned Thornton on a point-blank chance moments later ... In a totally unrelated matter, the National Capital Baseball League lost a good friend with the passing of John Jordan, a fine gentleman who was still umpiring in his 78th year. Condolences to his family.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM..:
See where the 18-year-old sports editor of the town's boring broadsheet was whining on Twitter about us pointing out he thought the Senators would be headed to the golf course after Game 82. He should be happy we acknowledged him, otherwise nobody would have a clue who he is ... And then there's his faithful puppy -- Mr. Dressup disguised as a hockey writer -- tweeting to his 164 followers that I wrote a column about 10 years ago suggesting the Senators trade "Alfie" for Mike Peca. As usual, he has his facts wrong, but next time I see him I'm gonna say "boo" to make him pee his pants anyway.