The Kid is all right

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Sidney Crosby's ears must have been burning throughout his flight to the National Capial Region yesterday.

The NHL's scoring champion hadn't even touched down when the Senators wrapped up their 45-minute skate, but he was pretty much all the media wanted to discuss as they went through their daily session with Senators coach Bryan Murray and the players.

"We've played well against him," said Murray, whose team has managed to keep the 19-year-old phenom to one goal in four games this season. "He's going to get a few goals in this series and I would be remiss if I didn't say that."

And when the Penguins and Senators face off tonight in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final tonight at Scotiabank Place, Crosby knows this will be his defining moment for this season.

"Really, the regular season is what it is. When it comes playoff time, that's when the best teams and the best players have to rise to the occasion," said Crosby.

The Senators are going to do everything they can to try to negate Crosby by making sure he has to pay some kind of price every time he touches the puck.

While Murray wasn't going to reveal his secrets to stopping Crosby, he indicated centres Mike Fisher and Jason Spezza will see plenty of time when the Penguin is on the ice, along with top defensive pairing Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips.

"He's a pretty good skater," Fisher said of Crosby yesterday. "I've got to make sure I'm skating and moving. He draws penalties so easily if you're not moving yourself because he's so shifty and strong.

"I've just got to make sure I'm playing physical against him and getting in his face and not giving much time. That's going to be the case for all of us."

Naturally, Volchenkov and Phillips are going to play the biggest role for the Senators when Crosby is on the ice.

The shutdown pairing are going to have to make sure goaltender Ray Emery can see the puck and try to keep the front of the net clear.

"I don't want to give my secrets away," said Phillips with a smile. "What's worked well for us is trying to take away his time and space. We've got to try to have a stick close to his stick and try to take away the things that he wants to do.

"He's got speed and if you go for a big hit against him, there's a good chance he's just going to go around you. If you sit back too much and give him time, he's going to pick you apart. We've just got to have somebody in his face."

Does Crosby have any weaknesses?

"He's a well-rounded player," said Phillips. "I don't even know what a weakness would be. He's not a big guy in stature, but he's got great balance and he's strong along the boards. He's not afraid to go into the corners and take a hit to make a play. That's why he finished with 120 points."

The difference between Crosby and a guy like Rangers superstar Jaromir Jagr is simple: Crosby is willing to pay the price.

The top candidate for the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP, Crosby is not going to get frustrated by the attention from a checking centre if that's the route Murray decides to go.

"The big thing with (Crosby) is he competes and plays hard," said Fisher. "Some top players you can get on them and they shut it down. I don't think that's the case with Crosby.

"He's so competitive that he's going to play through it. That's why he's so good."


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