April 17, 2012
Sens need another heroNeil stepped up in Game 2, now they must solve King Henrik again
By Bruce Garrioch, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - The Senators’ recipe for success in these playoffs is simple: They need a hero.
Trailing 2-1 in their first-round series against the New York Rangers, the Senators must solve goalie Henrik Lundqvist in Game 4 Wednesday to avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination.
Coming off a 1-0 loss Monday, the pressure is suddenly being turned up on top players Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris, Nick Foligno, Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar to start scoring.
“It’s been a tight series offensively and we didn’t get much power-play time the way things fell (Monday),” said Spezza, who hasn’t scored in his past five playoff games dating to April 20, 2010 vs. Pittsburgh. “We’ve had success this year when our line has scored.
“We’ve worked really hard, we’ve created a lot of chances, but we haven’t been able to score. We definitely feel if we can get going offensively, maybe get us started next game and score from there, it can springboard to everybody scoring and everybody getting confidence.
“As an offensive guy, you definitely feel the brunt of the pressure when you come off a shutout playoff game. You just try to work at it and be better next game.”
It was no accident the Senators spent a lot of time working on going to the net in practice Tuesday.
The Senators fired 39 shots on Lundqvist in Game 3 and he made some big saves. But Michalek, who scored a team-high 35 goals in the regular season, had just one of those shots.
“I’m trying to be patient and keep working on it every day,” said Michalek, who has 10 goals and seven assists in 43 career playoff games. “Nothing has really went (right) for me so far ... I just have to go to the front of the net and, hopefully, get some rebounds.”
This series has been a tale of unlikely heroes.
Saturday, it was rugged Senators winger Chris Neil with the OT winner in Game 2. For the Rangers, Brian Boyle is carrying the torch with goals in three straight games after scoring 11 all season.
So, do the Senators need a Boyle-type performance from somebody, anybody?
“I think so. I think guys have stepped up, though,” said Foligno. “It’s just a matter of getting the bounces to go in the net. I think we’ve run into a hot goalie right now.
“We could have a Brian Boyle on our team that has already scored three or four goals in the last game. Yes, we need a guy to step up and put in some goals, but I don’t think we’re going to put too much pressure on ourselves.
“We’re going to continue to play the way we have and finally solve Lundqvist. You’re going to see a lot of guys benefiting from that.”
Coach Paul MacLean agreed that the Senators need a player to deliver Boyle-type effort. The paltry 1-for-10 power play also has to start delivering, quick.
“Someone can be the hero. Chris Neil stepped up for us in Game 2 and scored a big goal,” said MacLean.
“Turris has been pretty consistent for us through the three games. If we could create that one more scoring opportunity, we might have that guy. We need somebody, I think it’s our power play that can step up for us. I guess that would lead to Jason Spezza, (Michalek), (Gonchar) and Karlsson. Our best players have to be our best players.”