Sens need to bust Lightning trap
Don Brennan, QMI Agency
|The Senators learned a lesson from playing Washington on Saturday. They'll get more of that trapping defensive scheme Monday night vs. the Lightning. (FILE PHOTO)
OTTAWA - The Senators can thank Dale Hunter for spoiling any chance they might have had at a day off Sunday.
It wasn’t so much that the Hunter-coached Washington Capitals beat them the night before, but how — by using a similar type trapping style of play he employed as coach of the London Knights.
What NHL teams trap like that in the NHL anymore? Not many. Just Tampa Bay and a couple of others.
Coincidentally enough, the Lightning will provide the opposition on Monday, when the Senators play only their second home game since Nov. 9. Come Wednesday, the Senators can thank Hunter in person for spoiling any chance they might have had the day off, when he and the Caps drop by The Bank.
“It was the main focus of the day, to get some execution vs. that,” MacLean said after the on-ice session at Sensplex. “Tampa Bay also uses a 1-3-1 and after (Saturday) night, we obviously need to address it, make sure we know what we’re doing.
“They’re not exactly similar, but there are similarities there that you can use what we did today to handle both.”
Against the Caps, the Senators had 34 shots but, just as Hunter wanted, very few decent scoring chances. Hence, they paid close attention to MacLean’s “teaching” practice and now believe they have the key to breaking the trap.
“I think (it’s) patience through the neutral zone,” said Jason Spezza. “I think sometimes you can have the tendency to want to build up a lot of speed to break it, but I think that if you’re patient and you just kind of follow your routes, you’ll slowly pick it apart.
“I think when you get in a rush and guys get too far ahead of the play, that’s when turnovers are caused and you get in trouble.”
In losing their second straight 3-2 game, the Senators fell to 12-11-3. They are tied with Washington and Montreal for eighth place, while playing one more game than the Caps and one less than the Habs.
This would appear to be an opportunity for the Senators to make a move, however. After playing nine of their last 10 on the road, they now get 12 of their next 17 at Scotiabank Place.
Facing the Lightning means needing to stifle Steven Stamkos — whose 16 goals have him tied with Milan Michalek and Phil Kessel for the NHL goal scoring lead — as well as Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier.
Michalek is red hot, having scored four goals in his last three games and eight in his last 12, but the Senators are in need of some production from other sources.
This is were Nikita Filatov is supposed to come in.
The speedy Filatov was a healthy scratch in Washington after starting the previous three games as Jason Spezza’s winger.
MacLean isn’t sure whether or not he’ll put Filatov back in the first line right wing spot or go back to Bobby Butler, who was unproductive against the Caps.
He also likes the way Michalek has played on Spezza’s line.
“At this point I’m still going to look at it. The possibility (of going back to Filatov) is there, yes,” said MacLean. “He’s played fine. We’d like to see production. He’s a skilled player and he’s playing with our skilled people, and he has one point to show for the time he’s played. If you count the exhibitions it’s even longer, and he’s got three points there, so we’d like to see some production.
“Sometimes it’s unfair to put that kind of production on a young player, but that’s the dimension he brings and that’s the dimension that made him what he is. So that’s what we need from him.”
Craig Anderson will make his sixth straight start in goal for the Senators.