A 7-3 loss at home, and most of the attention over the next 24 to 48 hours will focus on the post-game reactions from captain Daniel Alfredsson and head coach Paul MacLean.
For those who don’t feel inclined to watch the video, Alfredsson was asked by a reporter whether the Senators could come back from a three games to one series deficit.
“Probably not. With their depth and power-play right now, it doesn’t look too good.”
There’s no question that Alfie is going to catch flak from the sect of the fan base or media-types that will see this as weakness or the sign of a poor leader. They will admonish the captain for not throwing out some clichéd answer that describes the process of going balls to the wall, guns blazing, having to play the full 60 minutes and take it one game at a time while skating the whole 200’ and blah blah blah.
Alfie spoke the truth and I don’t see anything nothing wrong with that. Sure, maybe there is something to be said about the concerns for how this kind of quote could rub off on some of the team’s younger and more impressionable players, but the time for talk is over.
As a seven seed that is down three games to one, he’s right when he says that it’s going to be difficult to win three straight against the Eastern Conference’s best team. That is the reality of the situation that the Senators are in.
It can be done. The Senators have come back from a 3-1 deficit to push the New Jersey Devils to the brink in the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals, but it’s going to be tough and he recognizes that because he’s been through it before.
Frankly, Alfie could give some Any Given Sunday-like speech a la Al Pacino, but it won’t matter any if the team comes out in Pittsburgh on Friday and just rolls over.
All that we can expect as fans is for this team to put forth an honest effort and let the chips fall where they may. There’s no shame in that, especially when Paul MacLean can rally the troops with this gem…
See you in Pittsburgh.no comments
Mark Stone may draw into the lineup for Cory Conacher tonight. The switch won't be finalized until game time.— Ottawa Senators (@NHL_Sens) May 22, 2013
As this move was rumoured earlier this morning Graeme was quick to remind that - MacLean isn't afraid to tinker with a winning lineup (see Silf's insertion after Game 5 last spring). Now Conacher's become something of a whipping boy of late, and while I think it's been over the top at times (people forget he was the team's 2nd leading scorer down the stretch post-trade deadline), he clearly hasn't been at his best vs. the Penguins. A boxcar statline of 0G 0A -3+/- 8PIM 1SH for the series makes him an easy scratch. With Spezza and Michalek both in various stages of recovery, it's crucial that the other winger is more than a passenger. Lest we forget Stone and Spez did have some chemistry in their very brief time together.
In Stone, Ottawa would be inserting a player who really came on in the latter half of the year offensively for Bingo (from January on he had 10G 17A for 27PTS in 31GP). They no doubt lose some speed with this swap, but playing with Spezza should have him protected with plenty of cushy offensive zone draws. Mike Hoffman wouldn't be a bad option either, who to my eye looked excellent in his time with the big club, but maybe he ain't 100% yet.
*sings the Pageau song*
I wrote a few weeks ago about JGP's penchant for using the boards to retain possession, and maybe I'm just looking for instances now, but here's one more from Game 3.
If you listen in the beginning of the clip you can hear Pageau call for the puck from Karlsson, and then give a target for the pass (something he does all the over the ice supporting the play). Gathering speed out of the zone, he sees Crosby and backhands the puck off the boards to himself. The really smart thing about this is it forces Crosby to take a penalty if he wants throw a check, since the puck is gone. Crosby declines and Pageau collects the puck and is free to gain the o-zone with speed, backing off the defence and ripping a nice slapper that surprises Vokoun.
The good people at NHL.com are taking notice of his veteran-like game as well.
This Seems Fixable
Refereeing aside the Senators are still taking too many penalties in this series, a habit they've had trouble kicking for years now. Not a good recipe with the amount of talent on the other side, as through three games I have the Senators allowing 20 chances shorthanded. And that's not including the one below which if not for Malkin fanning could have been the OT winner.
The Penguins have worked this cross-ice diagonal pass from both the left and right points on the power-play, finishing on the left-side with Iginla and on the right-side with Malkin. They've been very successful in getting the pass through, but haven't really connected on the shot...though I'm not sure the Sens want to test that luck. In that spirit the best solution would simply be to recognize that Pittsburgh is often going to look for this play, in the instance above Greening has to cut off that that pass. If I can quote Pierre for a moment, "something, something ACTIVE STICK!". I'd expect there's been an effort to remedy this problem, time will tell...
On Tuesday morning, Paul MacLean made his weekly appearance on In The Box, and besides talking the dramatics of Game 3, Steve Lloyd got to talking Corsi by another name, or rather its constituent parts.
Steve Lloyd: "I know every club internally keeps track of their own real-time stats, but the shots that you directed on goal...you had 48 shots in the game and then you had another 29 blocked and 21 missed shots here as well. So you directed almost a 100 shots at Tomas Vokoun, do the blocks and misses concern you at all?"
MacLean: "Well the blocked ones are attempted at the net, it's the missed ones that concern us more than anything, cause if you don't hit the net you don't have any opportunity for a second or a third scoring opportunity. I'm a big believer in shooting the puck, so attempts at the net is a stat that I pay attention to a lot. When we're attempting...that also means if you have a 100 attempts at the net or 50 or 60 attempts at the net during a 60 minute game that means you have the puck a lot. So you probably did a pretty good job in the faceoff circle and you have the puck, and so when you shoot you're trying to generate [inaudible|. To me, that's a good stat for us to be at a high number, it's just the ones that miss the net that concern us more than the blocked ones."
This is basically what you'd expect a coach to say who came out of shot happy Detroit, and while I can remember Mac praising an effort early in the season by pointing to "70 opportunities at net", and these comments after a game vs. Toronto, this is probably the most detail I've seen him go into on the subject. Would of been nice to know if they track for individual players as well, maybe some enterprising media person can help us out? And while I haven't done the math on this, my educated suspicion is that the Sens do have a higher percentage of their shots blocked than average. I think that's partly a function of youth on the roster, but it will be interesting to watch next year if they start getting more through.
The Senators under Bryan Murray don't draft Russians...correction they don't draft Europeans out of Europe not playing in Sweden. Maybe that changes in the future, but that' been the record to date. But a Russian playing in the CHL is a different case, as I've heard Tim Murray comment before. And supposedly the Senators were high on Burmistrov in the leadup to the 2010 Draft, a player who went at #8 well before the Sens at #16. Now that pick was flipped, and flipped again for Kyle Turris so I'm not sure the Sens have much need to trade for another disgruntled young center, but when you see a story like the one this morning in the Winnipeg Free Press "Burmistrov Wants Out of Winniepg" it certainly makes for discussion, especially with the angle included within:
"The Jets attempted to trade Burmistrov and reportedly had discussion with the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders at the deadline. The names Jakob Silfverberg, Drew Stafford and Kyle Okposo have all been attached to Burmistrov trade rumours."
Yeah, so Silfverberg is pretty unlikely to be moved and I"m not even sure a lesser prospect or roster player would be offered considering Ottawa's logjam at center, especially with Pageau looking the part more and more each day. Did I mention Burmistrov's agent is the infamous Mark Gandler?
The kid is a good player, but I don't think there's a fit in Ottawa right now.no comments
After scoring the climatic game-tying goal in the last minute of regulation on Sunday, Daniel Alfredsson made an appearance on the Jim Rome Show this afternoon. Having formed a bond from his time with the Los Angeles Kings organization, former Senators Team President Roy Mlakar made the occasional appearance when he was with the organization, but I honestly cannot remember the last time a player appeared in the Jungle.
I have transcribed the appearance below, but if you want to stream the interview, you can do so here. If anything, you have to do it for the introduction where Alfie's poor telephone connection create some problems.
"And Ottawa was like, 'Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!'"
Will Alfie have a take and not suck, find out after the jump.no comments
Needing to win 4 of their next 5 games against the Penguins, the Sens need all the help they can get, cue the return of their star centerman. Spezza should provide a big boost to the league's worst offense and 20th ranked power-play who, despite having the 4th highest 5-on-4 shot rate in the league, has often looked stale and underwhelming.
After getting off to a hot start, Kyle Turris was forced into the first line center role after Spezza was injured in game 5, a tough spot he didn't sign up for. While he'll probably be bumped down to the second line to play with worse linemates and won't get as much PP time, Turris should benefit from not having to face team's top players as often. This year Turris' most faced opponents were Dion Phaneuf, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic. Last year with Spezza in the lineup he faced Dennis Seidenberg, Joe Corvo, Mark Streit and Matthew Carle the most, with Spezza tasked to take on top-pairings.
While injuries and poor shooting luck could be to blame, Milan Michalek has struggled on Turris' wing this year, and including playoffs, has just 5 goals in 30 games.
With the emergence of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, MacLean now has to move one of his centerman to the wing to make room for Spezza. My guess would be Mika Zibanejad, as he could take Latendresse/Kassian's spot on Smith's left wing, or Conacher's spot on the second line, since he played on the left side for Binghamton during the lockout. It's unfortunate because Zibanejad has played so well at center this year, but I think his north/south playing style might actually be better suited for the wing.
As we've seen with Karlsson, we shouldn't expect too much from a player who hasn't played since January. Even if he does get off to a slow start, Spezza's return does give the Penguins something else to think about , and hopefully a little hope for a team who has their work cut out for them.no comments
Today the NHL announced that Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean was among its three finalists for the Jack Adams Trophy, presented to the head coach who has contributed most to his team’s success. The Trophy is voted on by members of the NHL Broadcaster’s Association. Anaheim's Bruce Boudreau and Chicago's Joel Quenneville were announced as the other two nominees.
Since being hired in the 2011 offseason, MacLean has brought more than his patented mustache to the table. His presence has provided stability at a position that the organization struggled to fill since Bryan Murray stepped away from the bench and assumed the GM position following the 2007 Stanley Cup season. In the years that followed, the organization went through John Paddock, Bryan Murray version 2.0 and Cory Clouston with mixed results.
From the moment that he arrived, MacLean has earned the respect of his players, the media and the fans. In the modern history of this franchise, I don’t think there’s ever been a coach who has been held in such high regard by all three parties. Let alone a coach who can drew the ire of an opponent like Brandon Prust and the presence of a doppelganger like MacClone Paul Watson.
This is the second time in two seasons behind the bench that the ‘husky’ walrus' has been nominated for the Jack Adams. Should he win, he'll be the first Senators coach to win since Jacques Martin won for his work during the 1998/99 season.
Here’s the write up on MacLean from today’s press release:
MacLean guided the Senators (25-17-6) to a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite the extended absence of several key players due to injury. Defenseman Erik Karlsson, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, was limited to 17 games; defenseman Jared Cowen, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, was sidelined for all but seven games; top forwards Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek played in just five and 23 contests, respectively; and starting goaltender Craig Anderson appeared in just 24 games. MacLean led a youthful Senators lineup, which included a League-high 14 rookies making at least one appearance, to the top defensive record in the Eastern Conference (2.08 goals-against per game). He earned his second consecutive berth as a Jack Adams finalist, finishing third as a rookie NHL head coach in 2012.
It’s interesting that the same criteria used to prop up what MacLean accomplished this season (and rightfully so) did not warrant the same kind of support for Bryan Murray in the NHL GM of the Year balloting. Ah well, I suppose there should be some level of satisfaction for seeing this organization be recognized for the unexpected level of success that came when the team was missing some significant key contributors from their lineup.
Other News of Pithy Importance:
- In case you missed it, my preview of Game Two of this Pens/Sens series can be read over at SenatorsExtra.com.
- Cory Conacher was featured on Puck Daddy as an unsung hero.
- Rumour has it that Spezza could return for the Senators in game three on Sunday night. Nails. Anything that helps make Colin Greening and Milan Michalek produce more than they have to this point. I will certainly be heading to sports.bwin.com/en/ice-hockey to check the odds on this happening!"no comments