After writing about how the Ottawa Senators can beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, the first two games of the series saw the Penguins dominate. As the series switches to Ottawa, the Sens will be looking for a spark at home. They will get that spark with the return of Jason Spezza for game 3.
The Senators have been without their star forward since January 27 when he underwent back surgery. There’s no telling what impact Spezza will have back in the line-up; Will it boost the Senators? Will Spezza contribute on the scoreboard? Either way for a team that needs to win 4 of their next 5 everything helps. Jason Spezza will provide some veteran leadership for the Senators, having played in 53 playoff games. Getting Spezza back will be a big boost for the Senators, but they’ll need to improve their all around game before they can get a leg up on the Penguins.
Contain Sidney Crosby
In all fairness to the Senators, containing Sidney Crosby is a lot easier said than done. In game 2 Sid the kid netted a hat-trick taking over the game to get the win. If the Senators plan to come back in this series they will need to keep Crosby off the scoresheet as much as possible. If Sidney Crosby is scoring, chances are the Penguins are winning. Whether you need to double team him or hit him with just a little more force, the Senators need Crosby off his game.
Craig Anderson Needs to Steal A Game
The backbone of this Senators team has been goaltender Craig Anderson. When the Senators were decimated with injuries Anderson came up big and kept them in the playoff hunt. Craig Anderson was a major factor in upsetting the Montreal Canadiens in round 1. He stoned the Canadien forwards and shut down their offence. So far in round 2 Anderson hasn’t been able to shutdown the Penguins offence, in fact he was pulled after Crosby’s hat-trick last game.
The Senators need Anderson to steal game 3 for them to get back into the series. In the first round Anderson had an almost unrealistic .950 Save Percentage, but in round two he has just a .863 Save Percentage and has been out-goaltended by Tomas Vokoun.
Erik Karlsson needs to re-find his game
Whether he’s tired or still feeling effects of his injury, Erik Karlsson has not been the same as when he first returned. Sidney Crosby made him look silly in game two and many whether about Karlsson’s health and conditioning. All great players have an “answer” game after a rough game. Erik Karlsson will need a big game in game 3 and needs to step it up for the Sens to come back. His thrilling end to end rushes and blasts from the point have been missing. Karlsson energizes the Senators team and when he’s on his game the Sens usually win.
Score more goals
With the return of Jason Spezza hopefully the Senators can start scoring more goals. With Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad, Cory Conacher and Daniel Alfredsson the Senators should have more than just 4 goals through the first 2 games. The Senators need to beat Vokoun and beat him early to get on a roll and hopefully get a key save. If they can score early and score often they should be able to sneak out a win in game 3.
The Senators have their work cut out for them if they plan to advance past this round, but it is possible. They will need better goaltending, better offence and better defence. With the return of Jason Spezza the Senators should come out on fire in game 3.