The special teams seemed especially flat last night. The penalty kills saw Andrew Hammond having to put on a show with the team a bit lucky to only allow one goal, and despite scoring the power play was barely generating anything in terms of chances. How can the Sens improve this for Game 3?
Ross: Stop taking so many penalties is the simple answer. Most seemed needless except for maybe Methot's hold. The other recommendations I have are to keep the penalty kill simple (I.e. Dump it rather than try to make a play every time) and for Hammond to cover it sometimes. The goal seemed to be partially a result of the D not getting a change because Hammond didn't take his chance to cover earlier. As for the powerplay, Ottawa needs a better zone entry strategy (dumping it in isn't working) and really needs a Gallagher to stand in front of the net most of the time to make it hard for Price.
nkb: There are two systemic changes I'd like to see Ottawa make to their special teams. On the power play, the Sens seem to have been coached to try to gain the zone via the dump and chase. My guess is that this is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to their struggles earlier in the year when opponents were stacking the neutral zone and the Sens were having trouble even gaining the zone at all. Wiercioch goal aside, the Sens have had a very hard time establishing themselves in the offensive end using these tactics. The focus should be on gaining the zone with control.
The other systemic change I'd like to see from Ottawa is a more aggressive four man box on the penalty kill. They've been playing a very, very passive brand of late and Montreal has been exploiting them. There's a separate issue of personnel, I'm not convinced Gryba and Borowiecki are up to the task on the PK, but I think a lot of their issues could be masked if Cameron gave the speedy Condra and Pageau the leeway to more aggressively pressure the puck.
What is up with Bobby Ryan? While he wasn't a liability like in Game 1, he just couldn't generate anything when he had the puck. Can he find his game again before its too late, or should his role be diminished?
Ross: I don't know if Ryan's injured or if he just didn't get enough conditioning in last summer because of surgery. Either way, he's not been effective for a while now. I think Zibanejad and Ryan are best complemented by speedy Hoffman, so that might help a bit. At this point, my cynicism has kicked in and I expect Ryan to be a shadow of the player he can be until the next year.
nkb: Bobby Ryan has never been a great play driver, even when he's healthy, so when his goal scoring dries up he's not a very effective player (healthy or not). My leaning would be to start him in a bottom 6 role and perhaps break-up the Pageau line to give him two speedy, defensively responsible players to play with. If Ottawa's going to win this series, they need something, anything, from Bobby Ryan.
General consensus in the last hot stove was to give Hammond one game to bounce back. With what some consider some weak goals, was Game 2 enough of a stinker to go with Craig Anderson in Game 3? If so, do you think Cameron will?
Ross: I don't think it was a stinker. A PP goal by Pacioretty where he didn't see the shot, a slap shot by Subban where he had all period to tee it up, and a horrendous giveaway by Gryba. Ottawa looked flat and Hammond was a small bright spot. If he can cover the puck every once in a while he'd be even better.
nkb: Andrew Hammond's run is like found money at the casino that you then bet on 00 three times in a row and won every time. It's amazing, and you should be so grateful it happened, but it's not a long term money-making strategy. If Anderson's healthy (still a real question, somewhat unknowable to us as fans) Cameron should go back to Andy. He's got the track record, and it's in these types of high leverage situations that be cold and rational about what do next is the most critical.