Senators toon in to Dora craze

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Dora The Explorer will not keep Senators out of Scotiabank Place this weekend entirely -- she's just nudging them into the crowd.

Daniel Alfredsson will attend one of the five shows booked in the building that will draw a total of 15,000 people Saturday and Sunday, as that is where his son Hugo is having his birthday party.

Chris Phillips' little ones will also likely drag him along to see the favourite TV personality of many a pre-schooler -- and Ray Emery is also threatening to check out the performance, as you might expect Ray Emery would -- but we're pretty sure Jason Spezza was only kidding when he said Brian McGrattan has booked a suite and been looking forward to the show for a long time.

"He can count to six in Spanish now," Alfredsson said of the positive influence Dora has had on Hugo, not McGrattan. "It's a pretty good show."

The Senators, a good show themselves these days, could possibly start Round 2 at home Friday, but only if every first-round series is over by tomorrow. Rather, they are likely to host Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals -- against one of Montreal, Buffalo or Philadelphia -- on Monday.

What would be an eight-day layoff would have i's pluses and minuses.

"The more rest the better," said Alfredsson. "We can have some good practices, some good workouts, and really be ready.

"You never know how the first period is going to be in the next game, but I'd rather have this than going to seven games and playing two days after."

Phillips, who limped from Game 4 against Tampa and then missed Game 5, will most benefit from the time off. Vaclav Varada, who was banged up in Game 5, is expected to be ready.

"I'm staying hopeful," Phillips stated of his status for the Round 2 opener. "I don't know if confident is the right word, but (playing) is the game plan right now."

Coach Bryan Murray has had only one experience with a long playoff layoff, and it wasn't a good one. In 2003, his Anaheim Mighty Ducks had to wait seven days for the winner of the New Jersey-Ottawa Eastern Conference final -- then another four days for the Stanley Cup final to begin.

"It certainly was far too much," Murray, whose team lost to the Devils in seven, said of that break. "I felt it really affected our first couple of games in particular. You kind of get soft, although I thought our coaches did everything in their power to keep the guys focused.

"I think a period of time gives you a chance to recover. But I'm not sure there's an exact science to the time frame you get.

'DON'T WANT 11 DAYS'

'I don't want 11 days. I don't think we'll get that. We may get seven or eight days. We'll try to keep it to the level it will be beneficial going forward."

"We want to get playing, obviously, and not be off too long," said Wade Redden. "But Dora's pretty popular. My niece and nephew, they sure love her. You can't do anything about it, I guess. They booked that a long time ago.

Hopefully it's not an issue. We'll get our games in, there's no doubt about that."

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Murray was asked why teams describe injuries in only "upper body" and "lower body" terms this time of year.

"If people find out there's something wrong with a player, we're not averse to going after and trying to hurt that player in that particular area," he said.

As an example, he cited shoulder injuries to Rangers star Jaromir Jagr and Lightning winger Vinny Prospal in Round 1.

"Everybody knew (Jagr) hurt his shoulder, and first time (the Devils) got a chance, somebody hit him," said Murray. "Not very hard, but it affected the New York Rangers for the balance of that game.

"You just have to be careful. We know most of the injuries of other guys. We knew there was something wrong with Vinny. My comment to the guys was 'finish your checks, every time you can. Every time you get a chance to take the body against Vinny, take his skill out of the game, but make him pay a price.'

"By the end of the series, he had a tough time playing."

Murray also credited hockey players for their toughness, and ability to perform while hurting.

"That's the uniqueness about the NHL," he said. "I've watched NBA playoffs in years past, top players getting a cut over their eye and not being able to come back for the balance of the game. That's maybe unfair ... that may be shooting the ball versus going up and down bumping into people ... but there's great character among NHL players, without a doubt.

"They grow up different. They understand that injury is part of the business, and they play accordingly.

"People are used to paying a price to play this game. Sometimes we get upset at them because they miss a check or do something wrong, but for the most part the kids play well, play hard and endure an awful lot."


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