Inside the Series: Konopka produces (non-penalty minute) numbers. New Bingo grads will watch. Does home ice matter? And how will Tortorella respond?

Zenon Konopka went to Madison Square Garden Saturday morning fully expecting to be part of the madhouse crowd in the building.

After all, he had sat out the previous eight games as a healthy scratch, including the playoff opener, and had only played in two of the Ottawa Senators previous 13 games dating back to March. He had never before played in the NHL playoffs.

Yet in the search for more toughness, coach Paul MacLean tapped Konopka on the back, telling him his time had come to make an impact.

When the Senators 3-2 overtime win was over, Konopka was sporting some rather impressive numbers. He registered an assist on Nick Foligno’s game tying goal late in the third period. He won seven of 12 faceoffs. He played 11:30, including 2:08 shorthanded and another 1:03 on the power play. One other number stands out – zero penalty minutes.

“It has been a long time since I played and to get in and affect the game that was is pretty gratifying,” said Konopka. “It’s what you train for and sacrifice for, so it’s pretty special. I always say there are no wasted opportunities. If there’s an opportunity, somebody is going to pick it up and try and make the most of it.”

The style of play in the playoffs is often far removed from the regular season – witness the nastiness of the Senators-Rangers series and the ugliness of Sunday’s Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins – but it often allows depth players to take on bigger roles. Such was the case for Konopka, who ended up seeing more ice time than Jim O’Brien (5:06) and Erik Condra (7:54).

Jesse Winchester, who only returned to the lineup in the final week of the regular season following a three-month concussion absence, has also gradually worked his way back into a significant role. He played 14:32, including 5:46 shorthanded.

“We have a depth of players on our team who understand how we do things and what’s expected of them and I think that’s important, not only for the regular season, but also the playoffs,” MacLean said.

NEW BINGHAMTON GRADS WON’T PLAY: Even though “six or seven” players from Binghamton of the American Hockey League will arrive Monday, MacLean says none of them will step into the lineup immediately. If Daniel Alfredsson can’t play tonight, one of the team’s existing healthy scratches – Bobby Butler, Kaspars Daugavins, Rob Klinkhammer – will step in to take his place. “We’ve considered everyone that is here, but we haven’t made any final decisions and we’ll wait to see what Alfredsson says tomorrow,” MacLean said.

HOME, SWEET HOME?: Jason Spezza was hoping that a Scotiabank Place crowd would give the Senators an extra boost. “We’re happy to be home, in front of our fans and now we have an opportunity to use the crowd to our advantage, hoping they will give us extra energy to take control of the series,” he said. Sounds good in theory, but so far, things haven’t worked out so well for the home teams in the opening round of the playoffs. Before Sunday’s games, the home team had a record of 5-10. The Senators actually lost more home games than they won during the regular season, posting a record of 20-17-4. By the way, only 250 tickets remained as of Sunday evening.

YOUR MOVE, TORTS: Typically, in the playoffs, the losing team makes the adjustments, begging the question about whether Rangers coach John Tortorella will respond with a change or two. The bottom end of his forward roster didn’t play much Saturday. Mike Rupp played 2:38, Stu Bickel checked in at 3:40 and John Mitchell saw only 4:31 of ice time. It’s possible that Boston College star Chris Kreider could make his NHL debut (Hagelin)

QUOTES DE JOUR: “I’m not a doctor or a therapist, either. I think Alfie will know how he feels and I think if he’s able to go, he will play,” Chris Neil when asked about the severity of Alfredsson’s injury…”I’m on pace for a point per game,” Konopka, talking about registering an assist in his first career playoff game.

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