Morning Skate Report: Senators

April, 12, 2012
4/12/12
1:11
PM ET
The Senators seem eager to champion the playoffs-as-fresh-start mantra, and for good reason. They'll gladly welcome the opportunity to play spoiler as underdogs in the 1-8 match-up against the New York Rangers.

As one Senator mused: "I think it's going to be a much more interesting series than people think."

Starting with a stunning turnaround from last season, when they finished in 26th place, the Senators hope they can continue to surprise in the playoffs. They'll be leaning on veterans Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar to lead the young group against a Rangers squad that has been pretty consistent since claiming first place in the East at the halfway point this year.

Paul MacLean, who will certainly garner mention among the handful of candidates for this year's Jack Adams Award, is looking to make his mark in his first year as coach of the Senators. He hopes his players are, too.

"A lot of careers are made in the playoffs," he said. "It's an exciting time for everybody."

Chris Neil will return to the lineup for the Senators after missing Saturday's season finale with a lower-body injury. Former Rangers defenseman and Long Island native Matt Gilroy will also play.
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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