The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the Ottawa Senators tonight in evening up the series with a 2-1 win. Sounds odd that a team dominates another and only wins by a goal but that was the case tonight. The Pens controlled the puck for much of the game but just couldn’t finish their chances. At times Pittsburgh had such great puck possession that you wondered how so many of the Sens key players could look so average for long stretches.
Tonight was a prime example of why Jason Spezza will never be labelled a superstar, yet is paid superstar money. Spezza was on the ice for both of the Pens goals. On the first Pittsburgh goal he let Sidney Crosby go to the net rather than engage with him and tie him up. What more can you say on the second goal Pens goal? The individual skill displayed by Crosby was incredible and hopefully it will show Spezza what it takes to win the playoffs. It was simple…….Crosby wanted it more than Spezza and even though people will say Spezza defended Crosby well…… it wasn’t nearly good enough because he didn’t stop Crosby from accomplishing what he wanted to do, set up a teammate for a glorious scoring chance. How many times did Spezza play perimeter hockey? Countless!! He had a great push to the offensive zone late in the game only to the slam brakes and backpass it to Pittsburgh. Why Spezza refuses to drive the net is beyond me? This kind of play from the Sens ”SO CALLED SUPERSTAR” will result in a quick first round exit. If Spezza doesn’t elevate his game BIG TIME, Ottawa doesn’t stand a chance of winning this series. Shoot the puck Spezza, there is no excuse for finishing a playoff game with no shots on goal!!
For the first time in as long as I can remember in back to back games during the playoffs, can you say that Daniel Alfredsson has been extremely average. He was guilty of not driving the net or shooting the puck nearly enough. His two giveaways led to glorious Pens scoring chances. Maybe you break up Spezza and Alfie if the same kind of play continues in Game 3.
Head coach Cory Clouston will have the last change in Games 3 and 4, and he must use this to his advantage. The Crosby line owned the Spezza line in Game 2. Full credit to Pittsburgh for outplaying, outhitting and outhustling Ottawa. It was clear that the Pens wanted this game more than Ottawa. If not for great play from goaltender Brian Elliott, this game could have got out of hand in a hurry. Clouston also needs to insert Shean Donovan in place of Ryan Shannon. In a physical series like this, you need all hands on deck and Shannon was a non-factor while getting bounced around far too much. Shannon never wanted to engage all game long. Donovan needs to play on that fourth line and bring some energy.
Is Mike Fisher dressing for the Sens? Yet again, he was a non-factor. Zero shots on goal, zero blocked shots and not even a missed shot on goal……..come on……….this is downright pathetic. Fisher gets a free pass in this city far too much, he needs to elevate his game even more than Spezza.
Ottawa lost every key component of the game, yet only lost 2-1 so I guess you can draw a few positives from that. Sens were outshot 31-20, outhit 52-31 and lost the faceoff battle. What bothers most about this game is how Ottawa lacked that killer instinct in possibly going up 2-0 in this series. They could have made things so much easier for themselves in this series had they won tonight.
Sens fans bring your vocal cords for Game 3 and be the 7th man!! The key to the Sens success in Game 3 will be dictating and initiating the play. If they can do that, it will go a very long way in grabbing a win in Game 3.
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About the Author
Written by Kevin Lee
Kevin has had an extensive career as a sports writer and radio show host for almost 10 years. Kevin has covered the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA College Football and Basketball. From covering the BCS Championship Game to the Final Four and the Stanley Cup Finals, he has done it all. He has been featured on numerous sports radio stations in Canada and the United States and often a weekly guest on numerous XM and Sirius Satellite radio shows. He has also had his work featured on FoxSports.com.