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Ottawa Senators' Chris Phillips was back at practice at Scotiabank Place Wednesday. (Ottawa...

Ottawa Senators' Chris Phillips was back at practice at Scotiabank Place Wednesday. (Ottawa Sun/Tony Caldwell)

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

The Senators were a testy lot yesterday at Scotiabank Place.

Chris Phillips, upset with his timing still being a little off during practice as he recovers from a suspected knee injury, slammed his stick and broke it on the glass.

Not to be outdone, goalie Ray Emery and centre Jason Spezza got into a little scuffle, but no punches were thrown. Instead, Emery whacked Spezza on the back of the legs with his stick and Spezza whacked him back.

Coach Bryan Murray got into the surly mood, barking out orders about wanting drills done just right.

Think the Senators are itching to hit the ice against the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night?

"Everybody's a bit edgy here because we haven't played for a few days," said Spezza with a wide smile.

Soon enough, though, the Senators can take out their frustrations against the Sabres. Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final goes tomorrow at 7 p.m., with Game 2 set for Monday night at Scotiabank Place.

After disposing of the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, the Senators know they'll face a lot more difficult challenge against the Sabres.

With a 7-1 pounding of the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, Buffalo advanced to the second round and served notice it won't be easy for the favoured Senators.

"They've got a lot of small players with big hearts," said Senators winger Vaclav Varada, a former Sabre. "That's what Philly tried to do, they tried to run their smaller players out of the rink by using their big players.

"It didn't work for the Flyers against Buffalo. Smaller players with big hearts will win out every time over a big team. (The Flyers) thought they could just walk over them, but it doesn't work that way. The Sabres won because they played well as a team."

Buffalo doesn't have a Vinny Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis or Brad Richards. Instead, the Sabres rely on Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Tim Connolly and J.P. Dumont to get the job done, along with the standout play of goalie Ryan Miller.

"We know this is going to be tough," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. "We have a lot of respect for that team. They've got a lot of speed and a lot of skill. They're going to be tough for us to play against ... no question."

But Sabres coach Lindy Ruff tried to play the underdog card following practice at HSBC Arena. Even though his team finished the regular season with 110 points -- just three less than the Senators -- he quickly painted Ottawa as the favourite. Even though many wondered if his words had much conviction.

"Well, if you look at this right now, we're definitely the underdog," said Ruff. "The year Ottawa had, the offence they piled up and their record against us (5-1-2) ... So, we've got a challenge and we've been up to a challenge."


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