He's officially Sid the Man

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:05 AM ET

“Ottawa bench penalty, too many men.”

Even before one of the Bads, er, Brads (Meier, Watson were the referees) called the first of two such penalties (and three in these playoffs) on the Senators (sinfully, they averaged one about every six games during the season), one thing was painfully apparent:

Ottawa doesn’t have nearly enough men.

Not to beat THE MAN, anyway.

These days, the Senators aren’t even in the same league as Sidney Crosby, who ran up his playoff point total to 11 (in four games) with two goals and two assists to make their elimination from the post-season tournament a mere formality.

In a must-win situation, the Senators simply made way, way, way too many mistakes.

The killer, of course, was Jason Spezza’s drop pass for Anton Volchenkov at the Penguins blue line that backfired when it ended up with the wrong Russian defenceman.

Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, Sergei Gonchar fed the puck up ice, where Chris Kunitz deflected it to Crosby, who squeezed the puck through holy goalie Brian Elliott.

“I think I surprised him a bit,” Gonchar said later of the Spezza steal. “I was following him up to the blue line, and he usually doesn’t do that.”

Meanwhile, people will forget that Elliott played so well in the first period because he was so bad in the second.

He absolutely needed to make a stop on that Crosby shot, which No. 87 fired without looking up and right at Elliott, who needed to be better on a play less than 12 seconds later, when he was drawing an assist on another Penguins goal.

It’s always a dicey moment when Elliott goes behind his net to play the puck and this time he reminded you why by putting it right on Max Talbot’s stick. A quick pass to Matt Cooke later, the score was 3-1 for the visitors.

Crosby chased Elliott with another goal slightly more than two minutes later.

After his latest dominating performance, it’s time to change Crosby’s nickname. It’s ridiculous to refer to him as Sid The Kid. He’s Sid The Man.

And he’s making the Senators look like boys.

Starts and stops

So Cory Clouston, who do you start in goal for Game 5? Elliott, who has played one strong game this series, or Pascal Leclaire, whose confidence took a vicious beating March 4 in Carolina, when he was pulled after giving up two goals that weren’t his fault on the first five shots. Suggestion: Might as well try Mike Brodeur. After all, he’s unbeaten at the NHL level and he did turn your season around once already ... In the small group of best Senators on this night have to be Zack Smith and Jarkko Ruutu. Tell me again why Smith didn’t spend the entire season in Ottawa? ... Matt Cullen was in and out of the doghouse in the second period. First, while playing the point on the power play, he misses a puck at the Penguins blue line. Then he lets up on his check, Talbot, only to watch the former Hull Olympiques score a shorty. Less than a minute later, Cullen was scoring his second of the playoffs. He also had two assists ... For the record, the Senators took 13 too many men penalties during the regular season. Seriously. With three more in the playoffs, that’s unforgivable.

Things I think I think

Eugene Melnyk made a surprise phone call to the Team 1200’s pre-game show, encouraging fans to be loud and proud. Sounded like he was already in a celebratory mood ... Talk about bad timing. Cullen delivers his hardest hit of the series, probably the season, driving Brooks Orpik into the end board 19 seconds into an Ottawa power play. A second or two later, as Daniel Alfredsson is winding up with a clear point shot, the whistle suddenly blows. The Cullen hit broke the glass ... Spezza might have broke a pane of glass himself, had he been a little closer to the board when he threw a fist in jubilation after ending his 12-game playoff goalless drought.

BETWEEN PERIODS

Jonathan Cheechoo played 7:13 and only registered one stat: A missed shot. So much for the gamble that he’d provided a spark ... Nervous? If he was, Senators coach Cory Clouston did a good job of hiding it after the morning skate. The Senators coach actually came up with one of his most colourful quotes hours before his team faced a must-win situation. After stating the pros and cons of sticking a full-time shadow on Sidney Crosby, Clouston was asked why a tactic used to work so well in the good old days. “You used to be able to almost rape a guy back then,” he said, referring to the clutching and grabbing that was allowed in yester-year. “The game has changed.” ... Unfortunately, the game played by Clouston’s team didn’t change enough, as the Senators were mauled by the Penguins.

JUST SAYIN’

As Jordan Staal was being interviewed by a media throng upon being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy awarded to the league’s best defensive forward Tuesday, teammate Maxime Talbot pretended he was miffed. “I deserve to be a finalist for that trophy,” snorted Mad Max. “I only had two goals this season.” ... Crosby makes sure he has a little visit with Bob Cole after he’s done with all the interviews following the morning skate. If he considers it a good luck charm, it’s working.

don.brennan@sunmedia.ca


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