Race2Four: Adams' goal - end scoring skid
Now that the playoffs are here, Craig Adams hopes to add an element missing from his statistics. The Penguins forward hasn't scored a regular-season goal in 111 games, a skid that dates to Dec. 1, 2008.
"To be honest, I don't think about it that much," Adams said. "I just know I didn't score a goal this year, and that's not good."
The good news for the Penguins is that Adams tallied three during the Stanley Cup championship run last year. That included a pair of empty-netters against Carolina, along with a first-period goal at Washington in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.
Adams' role is to sacrifice his body and his scoring in an attempt to prevent opponents from finding the net. His penalty-killing prowess is why he's not even a consideration to be the odd forward out in the playoffs.
Adams is best remembered for diving in front of Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom's last-second shot in the Game 7 victory in the Cup Final.
"Certainly not for whatever goals I scored," Adams said. "Being on the ice at the end when we won, that's what I remember more than a couple goals."
That is what the Penguins respect about Adams, as well.
"That's a guy with a lot of courage, going down face-first for a shot without a shield," goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. "He's done that all year long, blocking shots all over his body."
Adams is just glad that his contract doesn't include goal-scoring incentives, so he's not losing anything for his lack of lighting the lantern.
"Maybe some sleep," he said, "but no money."
GM Shero done dealing with UFAs until after playoffs
Penguins general manager Ray Shero said he has no plans to resume talks with the club's remaining impending unrestricted free agents, including defenseman Sergei Gonchar, after backup goalie Brent Johnson signed a two-year extension worth $1.2 million Tuesday. Johnson, 33, went 10-6-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average and .906 save percentage this season.
Touted defense prospect in fold
Prospect defenseman Carl Sneep and goalie Patrick Killeen signed entry-level contracts that will pick up for next season. Sneep, picked 32nd overall in 2006, finished with 17 goals and 64 points in 157 games over four seasons at Boston College. Killeen, currently with AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, went 63-48-7-10 with a 2.74 GAA in four seasons with Brampton of the Ontario Hockey League. He was picked 180th overall in 2008.
Line combos a mystery
Coach Dan Bylsma has been noncommittal about the Penguins' possible forward lines, and the uncertain status of left wings Matt Cooke (concussion) and Chris Kunitz (shoulder) could force late change to his plans. However, it is unlikely that top centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will skate regular shifts on the same line unless the Penguins trail late in Game 1 at Mellon Arena. At a practice Tuesday, Malkin centered left wing Ruslan Fedotenko and right wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who did not play in the final two regular-season games because of suspension.
The Senators limited Sidney Crosby to only three assists in four regular-season games against the Penguins. Ottawa is expected to try matching top defense pair Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov against Crosby's line, which should include veteran right wing Bill Guerin. Crosby has traditionally struggled against the Senators. His career regular-season totals are two goals and 13 points in 17 games, and he was a minus-8 player over that span. However, in nine postseason games against Ottawa he has produced five goals and 13 points to go with a plus-2 rating.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES: An inside look at Ottawa
Right wing Chris Neil is the type of pesky player who can greatly influence a playoff series without recording a point. If the Senators can get him on the ice opposing Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, perhaps Malkin's penchant for taking penalties — 100 sin-bin minutes in the regular season — will play a factor in Ottawa's favor.
He said it
"Player-wise, there's a lot of familiarity with both teams and that's something that's not really an advantage for either team at this point." — Sidney Crosby, Penguins
By the numbers
2007, Senators/6-for-24/Won, 4-1
2008, Penguins/6-for-23/Won, 4-0
"At times, we weren't all there, but it's 82 games. I don't want to make an excuse, but it's tough to compete at that high level for 82 games. In the playoffs everything counts, you go to the end for every shift." — LW Ruslan Fedotenko, comparing regular season to playoffs
"I want to forget the first 10 minutes. We couldn't get out of our zone. It was like they had an extra guy on the ice." — D Brooks Orpik, on Game 1 of the 2007 first-round series at Ottawa
"The games that they've been able to do that, they've played good team defense. That's a challenge you face in the playoffs, whether it's Ottawa or anybody else. It's always a challenge to create things, to get opportunities." — C Sidney Crosby, on his scoring struggles against the Senators
Alex Ovechkin says he feels no pressure, but gambling site Bodog.com has posted his Washington Capitals as the odds-on-favorite to raise the Stanley Cup. The Capitals are at 7:2, followed by the Chicago Blackhawks at 9:2, and those perennial early-exiting San Jose Sharks at 11:2. As for the defending champs, well...
PENS ODD TO WIN CUP: 6:1
ODDS OF PENS-WINGS III IN THE FINAL: 20:1
ODDS THAT ROSSI'S PENS-SENS PICK IS CORRECT: 5:1
— By Kevin Gorman, Josh Yohe and Rob Rossi