Four games into the 2007 NHL playoffs, the voting wouldn't even be close.
Christoph Schubert has easily been the Senators' MVP. And as their most versatile player, he is also one of their most valuable.
Schubert saw a relatively modest amount of ice time in Tuesday's huge 2-1 win at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena. He played 12:41, which was 14th most among all Ottawa skaters.
But his 17 shifts were also split between three different positions.
Schubert was as physical as always at his usual left wing spot on the team's fourth line, which will continued to be referred to as the "Energy" line until somebody comes up with a catchier nickname for it.
He also played both left and right defence, filling in for whichever of Chris Phillips or Anton Volchenkov was in the box. Thus, Schubert led all Senators in short-handed ice time, with 5:57.
That Ottawa managed to hold the vaunted Penguins power play to an Oh-fer performance was a key factor in the victory.
"There's a difference," Schubert said after yesterday's practice at Scotiabank Place, when asked about playing both ends of the blue line. "On the PK, the right 'D' is suppose to try and step up and hold the blue line, and the left 'D' is supposed to try and help the forwards down low in the corner.
"For me, whatever spot opens, I just want to jump in and play it," added the second-year, natural defenceman -- who has also had games in which he has played four positions. Both wings and both points. "It's a plus for me."
To have someone with Schubert's ability that can wear the different hats -- and wear them well -- is a tremendous plus for the Senators. Bryan Murray admits he's never had a player quite like the 6-foot-3, 237-lb. German.
"I've had players that do that, but not as well," Murray said when asked of Schubert's different dimensions. "His skills and his shot make him unique. I like him on left wing, he goes up and down the ice so well and he's very effective on the fore check.
"He's a big body, a big hitter, a good skater ... and his salary just went up," added Murray, making a lighthearted reference to the fact Schubert is eligible to become a restricted free agent July 1.
While the remark created a chuckle in the press room, the multi-faceted Schubert should also soon be laughing. All the way to The Bank.
Around the boards
Like a 20-year major leaguer known for his keen batting eye, Penguins veteran Gary Roberts appears to be getting the benefit of the doubt on some strikes. His late hit on Anton Volchenkov in Game 4 very much crossed the line, Chris Neil said yesterday. "He's gotten away with a couple, and we have too," said Neil. "You can call it cheap, you can call it hitting from behind, you can call it whatever you want. But it should be called a penalty." ... Murray complained to league officials about Roberts after the game and, it's believed, again yesterday. "I like Gary Roberts," said Murray. "I just think that sometimes, when you don't have the puck, you shouldn't get run. And I think that's happened a couple of times." ... LW Oleg Saprykin said Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu was not trying to kiss him during a scrum Tuesday, despite how it might have looked. "He was just chirping," said Saprykin. "He does the same thing every year. He's chirping or sitting in the penalty box."
This and that
Both Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson skipped yesterday's practice. While it's not uncommon for the 34-year-old Alfredsson to miss such on-ice workouts at this time of year, Heatley's skates usually have to be hidden for him to stay off them. Murray said his 50-goal scorer is not bothered by an injury. "He's fine," said Murray, who was asked about Heatley's mediocre (for him) output of one goal and two assists so far in the playoffs. "I think sometimes guys try to do a little more than they have to, and they overhandle the puck sometimes. I think (the Penguins) are very aware of him and he's not getting the shots he normally does." ... RW Patrick Eaves did not practise with the team and will miss his second straight game tonight. Eaves suffered a head injury when knocked out of Game 3 by Colby Armstrong ... While pulling Mike Comrie aside for his bow as one of the game's three stars Tuesday, Senators director of communications Steve Keogh was on the receiving end of a beer thrown by a fan at Mellon Arena. The hurler was nabbed by security. "It was a brand new suit, too," Keogh said yesterday. "I was a little upset." ... Neil's been impressed with the way the diminutive Comrie has thrown his weight around. "He's one of the smallest guys in the league, and he goes out and plays like Zdeno Chara. It's unbelievable," said Neil, who was not surprised at the way Comrie fought Armstrong in Game 2. "I've seen Armstrong fight before, he just turtles. I've seen Mike fight, too. He's shown me the YouTube clip."