EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur says these are not the same old Senators.
They're different: New coach. New faces on the bench. New attitude.
And, the respected veteran goalie of the New Jerseys Devils said the Senators started Round 2 of the playoffs last night at Continental Airlines Arena with different expectations.
"First of all, they didn't dominate the regular season the way they usually do," said Brodeur before Game 1. "They came in (to the playoffs) probably feeling good about themselves.
"But they're not saying, 'Oh well, that's a lot of pressure.' Sometimes it's nice to play without that pressure. Here in New Jersey that's what it is: People always think we're going to be there, but they never think we're going to win. You fly under the radar as long as you can and Ottawa seems to be like that a little bit this year, even though they had a great second half of the regular season."
Coming off a series victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Devils know the challenge against the Senators will be tougher. The Senators are more explosive than the Bolts, who relied mainly on Vinny Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis to carry the offensive load.
"Ottawa is definitely a better hockey club," said Brodeur. "Yes, they do have a top line (Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson) that scores a lot of goals, but they have other people who are going to chip in offensively as well and they're dangerous.
"There are different ways they can beat you. This is definitely going to be a challenge for our whole team. We need everybody to check in for this series."
Brodeur had a tough time in the first three games against the Bolts, but bounced back to make the difference.
"I felt pretty good the whole way through," said Brodeur. "I was fortunate the puck hit me a little more in the back of that series. I really think it was time for us to step up our game when we down 2-1 and we did."
ME AND MY SHADOW
Devils C John Madden said he expects to see a lot of C Jason Spezza in this series. "You've really got to take away his time and space," said Madden. "That's not as easy as it sounds. With a guy like him, he creates a lot of space with his speed. He's always got his head up and making some great plays. You've got be aware at all times when he's on the ice. If he's going to want to come to the front of the net or go to the corner to get pucks, we've got to make him pay the price as well." Madden said he can't get carried away trying to hit Spezza, though. "If you get running around so you can hit him, he's the kind of guy who is going to find an open man and make you look real bad. You have to be careful and more controlled," said Madden.
OFF THE GLASS
Senators G Ray Emery skipped yesterday's optional morning skate. That's a normal practice for him ... The Devils will move into the new Prudential Center in nearby downtown Newark next season, but nobody is certain the club will fill that building either. According to a report in yesterday's New York Times, the Devils had a total of 6,300 empty seats in the first three playoff games against the Bolts. Brodeur said he thought the building was full. "I think the towels (the team gives out) made it ... It fills up the empty seats." ... Mark Gandler, the agent for former Senators captain Alexei Yashin, says his client would be willing to give up the 'C' if the Isles want to give it to UFA LW Ryan Smyth to keep him in the organization. "It's not an issue for (Yashin). I know he would do it, whether it's Ryan Smyth or any other player," said Gandler. Gandler added he hasn't had any discussions with the club about the Isles buying out the final $26 million remaining on Yashin's contract.