The Ottawa Senators will be looking to do what only 13 teams have done in NHL history when they visit Pittsburgh tomorrow night and that is comeback to win a seven game series after trailing 3-1 in the series. After losing yet again on homeice, this time 7-4, Ottawa just doesn’t have the goaltending to compete in these playoffs. Ottawa is in a major hole and needs to win three games in a row, something that just doesn’t seem possible at this point unless the Sabres trade the Sens Ryan Miller in time for tomorrow nights game.
It also doesn’t help matters if you are a Sens player when you are playing against two teams, yes the Penguins and the men in stripes. It goes without saying that the officiating was horrible once again but that is here nor there when you have awful goaltending and not enough firepower. The injuries to Alexei Kovalev and Milan Michalek are starting to show up front. You just can’t run and gun with the Pens. But when it comes to goaltending, Brian Elliott actually kept his team in this one for the first period, but that is where it ended. Elliott allowed a terrible second goal and after the third goal to open the second period, Elliott was clearly rattled. So what does our terrible head coach do, he calls a timeout and you think he is going to put in Pascal Leclaire. Instead he leaves Elliott in and the Pens score within moments of the timeout ending. Game over. Clouston’s ridiculous decisions when it comes to his boys from his Binghamton days stings this team yet again! It only took Clouston two games to realize that the starting the number one line to begin the game wasn’t working. He finally started the Sens best line, their third line.
But give Ottawa credit for fighting and making a game of it. After Daniel Alfredsson made it 4-2, a pain of glass fell out of the seams just as Ottawa had a glorious chance to fire the puck at what seemed a open net. Alfie had the puck about 15 feet away from the net and Fleury was out of position. Naturally the refs need to blow the play dead. After the glass was fixed the Pens score shorthanded and instead of the game possibly being 4-3 it was now 5-2. Still, the Sens came back and scored right away to pull within two goals but that is as close as they would get. With the game 6-4, Leclaire allowed an awful goal and took any wind out of the crowd and the Sens chances of making the miraculous comeback.
When looking at this game and taking the time to analyze both teams, it’s clear to see how good the Penguins truly are. I am not just talking about their skill but it’s their attention to detail. Ottawa ruined momentum on their side twice in the third period on too many men on the ice penalties. For something so brutal to occur not once but twice in the final period reflects on this teams mental state. The Pens just don’t beat themselves and they bury their chances, end of story! What more can you say about Sidney Crosby? For a guy making 9 million per year and our so-called star player in Jason Spezza making 7 million per year, the 2 million dollar difference seems like twenty when you see how far away Spezza is from becoming a complete player.
Spezza will never correct his laziness and selfish plays, NEVER! Last night was a prime example of why he is overpaid and still refuses to listen to his coaches. The guy is 27 years old and at key moments in the game he does behind the back to passes to the opposition or dropback passes to the other team, resulting in a goal. It really is that simple with him. Eliminate the selfish play and fans/media wouldn’t be on his back. He always has an answer to his play in postgame interviews yet he never translates that into success on the ice. My prediction of Spezza and Alfie needing two goals from their line for a Sens win failed when Ottawa fell behind 4-0. Spezza and Alfie both finished with a goal and an assist but Spezza’s minus two and two giveaways where glaring mistakes! He did manage six shots on goal but missed the net five times.
Defensively the Sens were overcommitting far too much, similar to Game 3. Erik Karlsson’s rookie play showed up big time with his three giveaways but lucky for him Andy Sutton was there to bail him out.
When looking at the game stats a few things standout. Sens had six shots on goal in the opening period when you should be playing desperate hockey, not the start you want. Sens were outshot on the game by Pittsburgh 42-30 but outhit the Pens as well as winning the faceoff battle. Phillips and Volchenkov were each a minus three and really have been non-factors all series. Sutton and Winchester led the team with 7 hits apiece. On the Pens side, Malkin had 9 shots on goal and 8 missed shots on goal.
So who starts in goal for Game 5? Mike Brodeur? Trust me I am not kidding.
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.