Senators relishing role as upsetters

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion says he likes his team's chances as they head into the Eastern Conference final against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

GM says team achieved goal of making playoffs, then making some noise

The Ottawa Senators take on Sidney Crosby (87) and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference final, starting Saturday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion says he likes his team's chances right now.

The Senators eliminated the New York Rangers in six games to make the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2007. They'll face the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team they beat four games to one in the quarter-finals that year. 

At a media availability on Thursday before the team heads to Pittsburgh for Saturday's series opener, Dorion told reporters he's impressed with his players' resilience.

"We have pretty special players. I think they have really stepped up," said Dorion. "When you're one of 16 teams, anything can happen. I think the players took it upon themselves … I don't think they're satisfied with just winning the Rangers series, I think they feel they can achieve much more."

Veteran defenceman Marc Methot is among several Senators who have had to overcome issues both on and off the ice to get this far. He said those trials have brought the team together.

"It's really been a rallying point," he said. 

Whether it's Craig Anderson dealing with his wife's cancer treatment, Erik Karlsson's fractured foot, Clarke MacArthur's improbable return from concussions or Methot's own mutilated pinky finger, he said he and his teammates feel more like brothers right now.

Reporters wanted to know how Methot planned to play against Sidney Crosby, the guy whose late-season slash caused his gruesome injury.

"All that's behind me.... I'm just going to play him hard like every other player on that team," said Methot. 

New York Rangers' Mika Zibanejad (93) fights for control of the puck with Ottawa Senators' Marc Methot (3) during the second period of Game 6 of their second-round playoff series. (Frank Franklin/Associated Press)

Keys to success against Pittsburgh

The Sens hope to frustrate the Penguins with the same highly structured play that's gotten them this far in the playoffs, Methot said.

"For us, our structure right now is more important than ever."

It's Ottawa's fifth playoff series against the Penguins, with the Sens only coming out on top in one of those contests. That was a memorable five-game series a decade ago when the Senators steamrolled their way to the Stanley Cup final before hitting the brick wall that was the 2007 Anaheim Ducks. 

MacArthur said because the Sens are widely regarded as underdogs once again, there's less pressure on the team.

"No one's picking us again, for sure. At the end of the day though you still got to win four games, and it's hard to do. Whether you have the upper hand or not it's just really tough to get the four games, so there's always a chance," said MacArthur.

Here's what some hockey reporters are predicting this round: