The face of playoffs

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 2:26 PM ET


 TORONTO -- "Daddy, bo-bo."

 Taylor White's dad had a rough night at the office and it showed at the breakfast table yesterday morning, as the two-year-old pointed out.

 One jagged wound, 12 stitches' worth, creased Todd White's face from above his upper lip up onto his left cheek.

 The Senators forward's upper lip was swollen.

 That was thanks to a high stick from Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Brian Leetch in the opening minutes of the Senators' 4-1 win Wednesday night.

 Unseen were the three stitches in his tongue thanks to a high stick in the third period from Leafs forward Nik Antropov.

 (Funny how it's the Senators who get painted in this series as the team that's dirty and reckless with their sticks.)

 After leaving for repairs following the Leetch incident, White returned and scored his first goal of the playoffs. The Senators also scored while Antropov was in the box.

 "A lot of guys come back from stitches," said White yesterday. "It's not a big deal."

 'THERE GOES ANOTHER'

 He paused and stuck a couple of fingers in his mouth.

 "There goes another stitch," he said, flicking it into a nearby garbage can.

 What is the big deal is White and his teammates are doing the things you have to do to win at this time of year: Sticking their faces in the ugly places where goals live, the back alleys of this wonderful game where automatic menace lies in wait.

 White got that high stick from Leetch because White was flying in to try and hand out a hit on the forecheck.

 Wearing down Leetch, the crafty rearguard who launches most Leafs attacks, and his partner, Bryan McCabe, is a priority for the Senators.

 It looked at first like White got cut when he hit the boards after catching a piece of Leetch.

 "It was his stick. He made a D-to-D pass and his stick came up and hit me right underneath the visor as I was coming in to hit him," said White. "It kind of threw me off balance and made me go into the glass kind of funny. I was trying to finish my check.

 "We know especially those two, McCabe and Leetch, are playing a lot. As much as we can, we have to get it in their corners and forecheck them and try and make the 30 minutes they're playing as tough as possible," said White. "We don't want them to have any easy shifts out there."

 White also took a shot in the back during a Senators penalty kill from McCabe.

 Another priority -- and it will be again tonight in Game 5 -- is to crowd Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour.

 White did it in Game 4, creeping into the blue paint and taking a back-handed chop from Belfour in the back of the legs for his trouble.

 TRAFFIC IN FRONT OF EAGLE

 "We had to deal with a lot of questions about not scoring and we came out and did the things we said we were going to do, try and get traffic in front of Belfour and it paid off with a couple of goals," said White.

 "Just one of those games. You get whacked a little bit or you try to block a shot, those are just things that happen in the course of a game."

 White isn't the only one, of course. He just wore the most gristly evidence yesterday. Winger Peter Schaefer has been a physical force along the boards. Captain Daniel Alfredsson, winger Marian Hossa, centre Mike Fisher ... everybody has been finishing checks and did a better job of ramping up the presence in front of Belfour, both of which must continue tonight.

 The knock on the Senators for years is they didn't know what it took to win at this time of year, hadn't learned or earned the high price of admission.

 White isn't their biggest player nor has he the reputation for being the toughest. But he and others have increased the Senators' reservoir of grit in this series.

 "There's no pain," said White. "It just doesn't look too good."

 There's not much that's pretty at this time of the year.

 After a couple of years looking in the mirror, maybe that's something the Senators now understand. 


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