Missed opportunities and still not far enough great performances by key players summed up the Ottawa Senators Game 3 loss last night on homeice. In falling 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3, the Sens have left little room for error when both teams hit the ice tomorrow night for Game 4. With the Pens now leading the series 2-1, Ottawa is in a must-win situation or fear falling behind 3-1 in their series in which they would find themselves trying to win three in a row.
Most fans for both teams in this series found themselves talking about the officiating after last night’s game. I am one to say that calls even out over the course of the series but last night was very hard to ignore. As many of you know, when you are at a game live you see far more than watching it on TV. When former NHLers both in the building and on TV last night were saying the officiating and I quote, “disgusting” and “Ottawa got the short of the stick far too much”, that says it all for me. I don’t need to elaborate. I had numerous people texting me throughout the game saying the NHL is getting like the NBA when it comes to their star players and how could anyone dispute such a claim after last night. I will hold judgement until after Game 4 as I truly hope the calls even out, otherwise I would go on and on.
I truly don’t know where to start when it comes to the play of Ottawa. You have to give Pittsburgh credit for neutralizing the Sens top players but you also have to wonder why players like Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza continue to flounder at key times in the game. Spezza’s four giveaways led to quality Pittsburgh chances and his failure to shoot the puck from in close really hurt the Sens last night. Numerous Sens players failed to drive the net and back up the Pens defense. All of this has made life very easy for Marc-Andre Fleury as he hasn’t been challenged one bit after a rough Game 1.
At the other end of the ice Brian Elliott HAS to stop those first two goals. The first goal was very deflating just a little over a minute into the game. As many radio and TV analysts pointed out, Elliott wasn’t nearly good enough to give his team a chance to win. It’s now time for Elliott to steal a game for the Sens. But, one area that isn’t helping the young goaltender is his defense. On far too many occasions the Sens defense are over-committing and giving the Pens glorious scoring chances. The duo of Erik Karlsson and Andy Sutton where AWFUL! Karlsson made numerous mistakes but the key one being cocky and too lazy on the Pens 2nd goal when he was stripped of the puck by Maxim Talbot and Malkin scored the winner. Then Sutton allowed Sidney Crosby to score a beautiful backhander to make it 3-1. The gap control by Karlsson is killing the Sens. Ottawa is chasing the puck far too much and without the puck possession game Ottawa is going to find themselves out of the playoffs in a hurry. Alfredsson went as far as mentioning this exact point in the postgame press conference.
Speaking of Alfredsson, his zero shots on goal again are crippling this team. Peter Regin has been by far the best player on their line as Spezza brings nothing to the table. The 7 million dollar man looks like the 7 dollar man!!!!! Someone needs to tell Spezza this isn’t a regular season against the Florida Panthers and that attention to detail is huge, while individual play needs to stop.
When players like Nick Foligno are more noticeable than Spezza it says alot. I thought Jesse Winchester had a great game but didn’t see near enough icetime as the 4th line didn’t seem to have that edge like they did in the opening 2 games. Ryan Shannon has played a miserable two games since being inserted in the line-up and it needs to stop. Cory Clouston needs to dress Shean Donovan now!! You know he will bring a dimension to the 4th line that is lacking with Shannon. He refuses to engage and is out of place on the ice far too much.
Why Cory Clouston doesn’t start the game with an energy line is beyond me. He needs to set the tone for his team. I recall Bryan Murray doing this with Christoph Schubert, Chris Neil and Mike Fisher a few years ago in the playoffs. He knew they would bring a great opening shift and set the tone for the rest of the team. Starting the Spezza line has done absolutely nothing and it’s time for a change.
Must win tomorrow night or the season is all but over for Ottawa. Lets hope the Sens star players decide to realize the playoffs are here and they need to elevate their game.
As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.