Senators News: May 13th

-Here’s my preview of the second round series against Pittsburgh, which will begin tomorrow (Tuesday).

Allan Muir picks the Pens in seven, echoing the points above and below (focussing primarily on Pittsburgh’s goaltending).

The Raaymaker gave me a heart attack by suggesting Chris Phillips will be the main guy shutting down Sidney Crosby:

Despite Phillips‘ coverage, Crosby‘s lit up the Sens in the regular season (6G, 19A in 24GP), and it’s only been worse in the post-season: He’s got 27P (10G, 17A) in 15 career playoff games against Ottawa–far above his career points-per-game average.

He may be right about the match-up, but I doubt Paul MacLean wants it exclusively.  A healthy Erik Karlsson is the only Sens blueliner who can keep up with his speed and I’d rather have Marc Methot on Crosby duty.

James and Varada discuss with the match-up with James suggesting the Pittsburgh-Ottawa match-up is on par with the Boston-Toronto series, which I just don’t see at all.  Varada suggests agitating the Penguins like Philadelphia did last year in order to have success, while James thinks a speed advantage is the Sens way to win.

Jason Spezza did not join the Sens as they travelled to Pittsburgh, so will miss at least game one.

-Some quotes from Daniel Alfredsson, Karlsson, and Paul MacLean about the upcoming match-up:

You can’t come down (the ice) and know that he’s [Tomas Vokoun] going to butterfly every time [like Marc-Andre Fleury]. He’s going to do different things all the time. You’ve almost got to make him think that you think that I think what he thinks all the time. Does that make sense? I don’t know.

And

Even though they have a great team, if you just work hard and the right way you’re going to give yourself a chance.

And

How do we match up against them? We’re going to have to see. They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason so we’re going to have to be ready to work. One thing I’ve learned from the Stanley Cup playoffs is that they play the games and a lot can happen. A lot of times what’s supposed to happen doesn’t happen. We just have to get ourselves prepared as best we can and give ourselves a good effort.

Jared Cowen talked about the match-up:

There’s so much to worry about over there. They have quite a bit of firepower. I think we have the perfect style of play to combat that. Obviously we showed that against Montreal against their top players so I don’t think we should have too much difference in our game plan in terms of shutting them down. The Islanders play kind of similar to how we play with the kind of lineup they have and I think if we can simulate that, but maybe have more success in the O-zone. They have three lines that could be a first line on a lot of other teams. The core of their team has been playing together for a while so they’re very familiar, they’ve been to the final a couple of times so it’s not like they’re inexperienced and talented, they’re experienced AND talented. They’ve got a lot of facets to their game and everyone here has to play their best to match that. We have experienced guys in different ways but not in the same way that they are.

Mark Parisi needs to rename his ups and downs column to “Michalek Bad”, since that’s pretty much all he’s said the last couple of weeks.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators Second Round Preview

Ottawa finished the season with a 25-17-6 record, good for seventh in the conference.  They face the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-12-0) as their second round opponent, who they met three times in the regular season finishing with a 0-2-1 record.  Here’s a look at each game:

January 27th 2-1 (SO) Pittsburgh (boxscore)
Ottawa gave up the first goal, trying the game in the second period (Colin Greening) before losing in the shootout.  Craig Anderson made 33 saves in the loss, while Marc-Andre Fleury picked up the win.  The game featured Jason Spezza, but a number of players were in the Sens lineup who won’t be playing in the series (barring injury): Peter Regin, Kaspars Daugavins, Jim O’Brien, Mark Borowiecki, and (presumably) Guillaume Latendresse.  The Penguins were healthy, but did not feature their deadline acquisitions.

February 13th 4-2 Pittsburgh (boxscore)
The Penguins scored first again, but Ottawa responded and took a 2-1 lead midway through the second period (Stephane Da Costa and O’Brien).  Pittsburgh was able to tie it before the third period and then pulled away.  Anderson made 26 saves for the loss, while Fleury earned the win.   This is the infamous game where Karlsson was injured.  The Sens were missing Spezza, Cowen, and Michalek, while dressing O’Brien, Da Costa, Lundin, Benoit, and Daugavins.  Pittsburgh was only missing its deadline acquisitions.

April 22nd 3-1 Pittsburgh (boxscore)
The Penguins took an early 2-0 lead in the first and despite a third period Patrick Wiercioch goal took the win.  Anderson made 21 saves in the loss, while Tomas Vokoun stood strong (34 saves) in the win.  Only Spezza and Karlsson were missing in terms of key players, while the Sens dressed no one (besides Wiercioch) who hasn’t dressed in the playoffs thus far.  The Penguins were missing Crosby, Malkin, and Letang.

A number of things to note: Anderson played all three games and looked ordinary in two of them; the Penguins had at least five powerplays in every game (well above the NHL norm); Pittsburgh scored first in every game; Ottawa only had the lead in one of the games (briefly); both Penguins goaltenders looked good against the Sens.  There’s no edge I can see for Ottawa in this series, and that seems reflected in a nervous blogosphere that steers clear of looking at the match-up directly.  Travis Yost hopes Anderson, Spezza, and Karlsson will make the difference–which has to be the case, but Anderson did not shine against the Penguins and Pittsburgh beat Ottawa with both Spezza (once) and Karlsson (twice) in the lineup.  Senschirp goes completely off the rails believing the Sens are either even or better than the Penguins in all categories.  Jared Crozier ignores the team’s history against each other this season and instead looks at their numbers in their first round series (as if the Habs and Islanders might foreshadow the second round opponents; I understand wanting to find trends, but still…).

I’d love to see Ottawa give Pittsburgh a run for their money, but if there is a weakness for the Sens to exploit in the Penguins I don’t see it.  The Islanders benefitted from horrific goaltending by Fleury as well as simply not being taken seriously early in the series.  I’d like the Sens to make it a long series, but it’s hard to see it going more than five games.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)