Little Buffaloes hard to catch

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

BUFFALO -- For the Senators, the mission will once again be akin to catching a minnow with a bare hand.

And stopping those speedy little Sabres forwards wasn't so easy for them last spring.

In the five-game series loss to Buffalo, the Senators allowed 5-foot-9 Ottawa native Derek Roy two goals and five assists, including a five-point performance in Game 1.

Daniel Briere, a 5-foot-10 Gatineau product, had a goal and three assists.

The 5-foot-10 Chris Drury had three goals and an assist.

And shifty Jason Pominville, who stretches to 6 feet on his tip toes but weighs just 186 lbs. soaking wet, scored the goal that eliminated Ottawa from the playoffs.

While rapid wee Sabres gave the departed Zdeno Chara headaches 12 months ago, Chris Phillips is faced with the task or wrapping them up again.

"That's their strength, their quickness, their speed," said Phillips. "I think, as a defenceman, you have to try and take away those first couple of steps coming out of the corner. That's where the little guys can be difficult, and they have a lot of those guys.

"You just have to make sure you're on the defensive side of the puck," added Phillips. "You can't slip behind them a step. You have to try and be physical with them and when you get a chance you have to finish your check.

BIG HITTER

"That might not mean as much in Game 1 or Game 2, but it could catch up to them, and maybe as the series goes along they'll think twice about going into the corners."

Christoph Schubert, who had 11 hits in the four games he played against the Penguins, recorded 13 against the Devils. For the most part, however, they were of lesser degree than those he dished out in Round 1.

New Jersey's style, with quicker players who wasted less time in moving the puck out of the defensive zone than the Penguins, cut down the effectiveness of Schubert. The hard-skating, hard-hitting fourth-line winger says Buffalo is similar to the Devils that way.

"With the smaller, quicker guys, it's harder to make the big hit ... maybe you have to delay a bit to see which way they're going to go," said Schubert. "(With the Sabres) you're going to have to be smart when you try to make a hit ... you have to make sure you don't lose your defensive position."

Wade Redden also acknowledged the problems posed by attacking water bugs.

"It can be tricky, for sure," he said of stopping small Sabres. "Especially when you can't put your stick on them without drawing a penalty. Containing them is the biggest thing, unless you can get a good hit on them. You have to try and keep them to the outside."


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