Spezza spanking Madden's line

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Senators coach Bryan Murray said he's happy with the matchups in the Eastern Conference semi-final.

Devils coach and GM Lou Lamoriello said he doesn't see the matchups as anything "major."

Huh?

As Dire Straits sing it, "Two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong."

Not in this case.

Both coaches have matchups that are working for them.

The big question going into this series was if the Devils' shutdown unit of John Madden, Jay Pandolfo and Sergei Brylin could stop the Senators' top line of Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson.

The Senators have won that one going away.

Madden and Pandolfo have been on the ice for all but one of the Senators' seven goals in this series (that was Dean McAmmond's short-handed goal in Game 1).

The only Devils goal Madden has been on the ice for was Zach Parise's that made it 5-4 with 30 seconds to go in Game 1.

"I don't mind the matchups at all. If they want to play Madden's line against Spezza's line pretty much, we can play with that," Murray said yesterday.

"We just have to make sure the (Scott) Gomez line is really looked after because they are a threat as our top line is."

Heading into Game 3 tonight, the totals for the Spezza and Madden lines:

Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson: Four goals, six assists, 10 points, 27 shots, plus-10.

Madden, Pandolfo, Brylin: One goal, zero assists, one point, seven shots, minus-8.

Just as significantly, Murray has been putting the Spezza line out on the ice a lot and Lamoriello has stuck with the Madden matchup.

The result?

Madden led all Devils skaters in ice time in Game 1 with 22 minutes and 24 seconds. He was first among forwards and third overall in Game 2 with 28:16, trailing only defencemen Brian Rafalski (31:33) and Paul Martin (31:28).

Of course, when Madden is on the ice, that means more dangerous offensive forwards like Gomez, Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta and Jamie Langenbrunner aren't. They all played about five minutes less than Madden in Game 2.

Lamoriello said yesterday both teams are used to matching lines and the fact Murray has last change tonight won't affect business much.

"It's not new to either team, so I don't think it's going to be anything major," he said.

Lamoriello has to like what he sees in the battle of the second and third lines, however, as the Devils are winning.

The EGG Line (Elias, Gomez and Gionta), has two goals, both by Gionta, going up against Peter Schaefer-Mike Fisher-Mike Comrie. That group doesn't have a point yet and is a combined minus-6.

Langenbrunner-Zach Parise-Travis Zajac are getting the better of Antoine Vermette-Chris Kelly-Chris Neil. They've outscored them 3-0 and the Ottawa trio is a combined minus-7.

The Senators need one of those two lines to start winning the battle because if the Spezza line comes up empty one night -- which is bound to happen -- the Senators are going to be stuck at the intersection of Out of Luck Drive and No Frickin' Way.

HEAR AND THERE: It was suggested to Gomez that the Devils are giving up too many chances and opportunities to the Senators. Maybe they want to play like the old, trapping Devils? "I'm not sure that's possible," said Gomez. "They've got such a deep team over there. They've got so many guys that can do great stuff out there. Yeah, we want to clamp down a little bit, but let's face it, those guys are outstanding players. They're going to get their chances. It's one of the best teams in the NHL. I don't know how stingy you can be with guys like that."

REVELATIONS: That Langenbrunner. He scored the overtime winner in Game 2 with a nice move on a breakaway to beat the Senators. He was the same guy who scored two goals in the Devils' Game 7 win over the Senators in the Eastern Conference final in 2003 ... Devils G Martin Brodeur, an influential guy in the game and a member of the competition committee, was quoted in yesterday's New York Post saying he's in favour of one period of 5-on-5 overtime in the playoffs, then 4-on-4 after that. "Ideas are there for people to think about. They're thrown out there for a reason, to see how people react," he said. Rangers F Brendan Shanahan is also in favour of the idea because he thinks 4-on-4 lends itself to "attack hockey" and long overtimes can affect the quality of the succeeding games.


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