Colby a true pit bull

Colby Armstrong (right), seen here celebrating a goal with Jordan Staal, is the type of player...

Colby Armstrong (right), seen here celebrating a goal with Jordan Staal, is the type of player Senators coach Bryan Murray would like to have on his team. (Sun Media/Tony Caldwell)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- The coach said Penguins agitator Colby Armstrong is the kind of guy he likes on his team.

Not Penguins coach Michel Therrien.

Senators coach Bryan Murray.

"The only guys you ever get mad at on the other team are guys that try real hard and play real competitively and Colby plays real competitively for them," said Murray. "When we're out scouting and looking for players, those are the guys we're looking for."

Armstrong has made himself public enemy No. 1 among Senators fans in this series, first by running Senators goalie Ray Emery in Game 2 and then knocking out Ottawa forward Patrick Eaves in Game 3 with a huge hit.

Armstrong caught Eaves with his shoulder as Eaves came out from around the Penguins net.

There was no penalty on the play, nor should there have been.

Armstrong said yesterday sorry, that's his game, but was also sorry Eaves was hurt (he'll miss tonight's game).

"I didn't mean to pinpoint on his head or anything. I just tried to hit the guy. There's bodychecks all game. It's just an unfortunate thing that happened," said the 24-year-old.

"I'm not looking to go out there and hurt anyone, if that's what you guys are thinking. It does affect me as a person. You don't want to hurt anyone. Away from the game, I do feel bad hurting a guy like that. At the same time, I've got to finish my checks. That's the way I've played. I have to keep doing that to help my team."

Armstrong was a first-rounder, drafted 21st overall by the Penguins in 2001, but this is his first full season in the NHL. He spent three full years in the AHL and split last year between the AHL and NHL.

While the agitating role might be less expected of a first-round draft choice, Armstrong is no neophyte, having had seasons of 122, 156 and 115 penalty minutes while with Red Deer of the WHL.

"I just try to play the game hard and finish my checks like anyone else does," said Armstrong. "I have to play hard and play in your face."

Therrien said to characterize Armstrong as a dirty role player is wrong.

"He's a kid who can make plays. He's on the first penalty-killing unit. He's a character kid and a leader in the dressing room," he said. "He plays a big role on this team."

Armstrong has been playing the right side with Sidney Crosby.

"He plays hard nose and especially in the playoffs those are the guys you love to have," said Sid the Kid. "He's going to battle every night and you know what you're going to get out of him. He's a great guy in the room, he's a great teammate and he'll do anything for his teammates. He's the ultimate team guy."

HEAR AND THERE: Crosby said he doesn't have a problem with bodychecks that contact the head, as long as the hitter isn't leaping at the hittee. "I don't think you can paint every hit with the same brush," he said. "There are some where the guy is forward and all that's there is their head. That's all you're going to hit. But there are other times where guys are leaving their feet. That's the biggest one. A guy leaves his feet, he's definitely going for a guy's head or high. I think that's what they have to watch for ... if a guy leaves his feet, that's a penalty." Other than that, if you have your head down, you're fair game, said Crosby.

SPECULATIONS: Senators W Chris Neil said he didn't have a problem with Armstrong's hit, either. Of course, he couldn't really, after his hit on Chris Drury, right? "He's finishing his check," said Neil. "It's what you have to do in the playoffs. Hopefully the guy falls down and hurts his elbow. Aches and pains are pivotal in a series." Exactly. At this time of year, everybody is hitting to hurt ... You would expect the team whose goaltender has an .867 save percentage to be trailing a series. You wouldn't expect the team whose goaltender has an .864 save percentage to be leading it.

REVELATIONS: Senators C Jason Spezza said he correctly picked Taylor Pyatt to score the overtime winner for the Canucks on Sunday night. "In the overtime, I like the big guys who stand in front of the net," he said. "The D-men throw those seeing- eye shots at the net and a lot of times they bounce in off them." ... There are only two players who have not registered a hit in this series: Pittsburgh's Mark Eaton and Ottawa's Tom Preissing .

THE BUZZ: Spezza and Penguins W Gary Roberts are friends. They train together in the summer. But there they were in front of the benches in Game 3, exchanging gloves to the face. Was Spezza surprised? "Not at all," he said as he pedalled on a stationary bike in a quiet hallway outside the Senators' dressing room. "It's usually the guys you know best you get into it with the most. It'll be something for us to talk about over a beer in the summer. Right now, it's all out war." ... So far, I've had two people here apologize for those fans who booed the Canadian anthem at Game 3. Think those fans realize they're also insulting 15 guys and a couple of coaches on the Penguins, too? It'll be interesting to hear what happens tonight.

JUST WONDERING: Who would have thought Mike Comrie (5-foot-7) and Dean McAmmond (not much taller) would be the Senators with fighting majors three games into the playoffs? ... Thinking about Eaton and Preissing: How is it two defenceman -- in the playoffs -- couldn't have one hit in three games?

PARTING SHOT: Armstrong spent three-plus years in Scranton. "That's a good place to go if the doctor give you six months to live," said one guy in the media room, "because it will feel like 10 years." Hey, it looks like a nice place on The Office.


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