Sens GM: Pressure all on Pens

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

Bryan Murray fired the first salvo of the playoffs with a sneak attack on the Penguins’ psyche.

As the Senators prepare to open the first round Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the club’s GM said that since Ottawa is being given little or no chance to win, all the pressure rests squarely on the defending Stanley Cup champions.

“I don’t read the papers very often, (Monday) I did, so there’s no pressure on us at all,” said Murray. “Nobody expects anything of us, so that’s a good thing.

“There’s no question they’re the favourite. They should be. When you win the Stanley Cup and you have the lineup that they have, there’s no doubt in my mind, that if I was probably looking at it — and being honest and fair — that Pittsburgh would be the team that you’d pick.

“If there’s pressure — I mean normal pressure — they’re expected to win. But we’re expecting a lot from ourselves.”

For a guy who doesn’t read the papers, Murray sure knows how to make headlines.

Surrounded by reporters as the Senators held their first practice of the playoffs at Scotiabank Place, Murray’s tongue might have been planted in his cheek, but his club is playing the role of loose underdog to its full advantage.

The Penguins have a bevy of talent in addition to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. There’s also Jordan Staal, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin and Alex Ponikarovsky. Sergei Gonchar is one of the top blueliners in the NHL. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury boats a Cup ring.

No wonder the Penguins are so heavily favoured (see odds at end of story).

“They’re the Stanley Cup champions. People want to take their heads off,” said Senators winger Jarkko Ruutu, signed as a free agent in July 2008 after two seasons with the Penguins.

“We don’t worry about (anything). Pressure is from all sides. People wonder why do we have pressure? If you’re well-prepared, there’s no pressure. You have to be nervous like any other game ... You have to do the right things when you have the puck and don’t have the puck.”

The Senators aren’t concerned about what the so-called pundits are saying.

“A lot of people are picking (the Penguins), but we’re not going to worry about that,” said centre Mike Fisher. “We know we’ve got a good team and we feel if we can bring our best, we can beat this team.”

After the Senators missed the playoffs last spring, veteran defenceman Chris Phillips noted it was nice to get back to work after the regular season.

“This is what it’s all about. You play 82 exhibition games to try and get here and give yourselves a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” said Phillips. “The goal of every player in the playoffs, whether you’re a favourite or an underdog, it’s everybody’s goal to try to make it a long series or just win one series.

“You never know when the chance is going to come again to have a shot at it. I’ve been in the playoffs, every year except for one, and I haven’t won a Stanley Cup yet. You think those opportunities are going to keep coming, but the years tick by and you’ve got take advantage of it everytime you are in there.”

ODDS

Senators to win the Stanley Cup: 25-1

Penguins to win the Stanley Cup: 6-1

Senators to win Round 1: 2.1-1

Penguins to win Round 1: 1-2.5

Note: The first number is the profit; the second the stake. A $100 bet on the Senators to win their first-round series would net a total return of $310 ($210 profit plus the stake). Conversely, it would take a $250 bet on the Penguins to make a $100 profit. Odds source: Glantz-Culver


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