First game flashbacks
Does any of this sound familiar?
Everything is escalated for the playoffs. The atmosphere, the speed, the hits: it's all turned up to 11 in the playoffs.
[T]hey came out of the gate flying and hitting everything in sight. The Senators, by comparison, didn't look to have the same type of intensity early. This showed on the scoreboard in the first period[...]
The second period saw the Senators come out with more jump [...] Unfortunately, after nearly 15 minutes of controlling the play, the Senators failed to capitalize on their opportunities (or their powerplays) [...]
Sens Zero: Jared Cowen
Cowen looked to have some rookie jitters tonight, going -3 in his 15:58 time on ice. He seemed unsure of himself and rarely used his size to his advantage.
Sens Zero: Craig Anderson
Anderson made a number of big saves in the first half of the game that kept the Senators in it, but 4 goals against on 31 shots is unacceptable, particularly in the playoffs. Sure, he was hung out to dry on a number of occasions, but I'm sure that when he reviews the game tape, he'll see at least a couple of goals that he probably should have had.
Sens Zero: Powerplay
The Sens went 0 for 3 with the man advantage tonight, and it simply looked ugly. The Sens had trouble breaking into the zone, and once they did, they didn't seem to know what to do with the puck. Shots on the powerplay rarely made it to the net. The Sens need to find a way to improve it, stat.
Sens Zero: Defensive coverage
[They] were a pretty tight and cohesive defensive unit, blocking shots and keeping the Senators to the outside. The Senators? Not so much. The Senators coughed up the puck constantly, allowed [their opponent] to get comfortable in front of Craig Anderson, and occasionally looked lost in their own zone.
That's what Darren wrote last year after Game 1 against the New York Rangers.
One more for you, now that you know the context:
Sens Killer: Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist looked shaky to start the game, frequently looking behind him to make sure the puck hadn't squeaked through. However, he managed to make the saves to keep his team alive during the Senators' strong second period, and because of that his team gained a four goal lead that was impossible for the Senators to recover from. Lundqvist made 30 stops and finished with a .938 save percentage.
Sound like anyone you recently saw play goal against the Senators? Tomas Vokoun actually walked away with a better save percentage, but it turns out Peter could have saved himself a little time recapping by copying and pasting and then changing names.
What got written for game 2? Well...
Sens Hero: Erik Karlsson
He scored a goal while playing billiards off Michael Del Zotto's skate, and had the following stat line: 5 hits, 10 shots, and 11 shot attempts blocked/missed. And that was just in regulation. Karlsson played chippy, sometimes dirty, and fought back when opposing players tried to take him out. He's still got a ways to go before he figures out how to excel under such heavy scrutiny, but he's getting there.
Super Senators Penalty Kill Hero Squad: Jesse Winchester, Erik Condra
No better pairing on the ice down a man tonight than Winchester and Condra. Both of them were lights out not just at keeping pucks away from Anderson, but bringing it all the way back down the ice… only to float a shot on a cloud at Henrik Lundqvist. A hint of sniping ability would have really helped either of the two, but they were still great. Condra played only 7:54 tonight, 5:20 of which was shorthanded.
Noteworthy Senators: Craig Anderson, Zenon Konopka, Jared Cowen
Anderson made 27 saves on 29 shots, many of which were on quirky angles and strange deflections. Konopka was a surprise starter and won many of the little battles and was 7-5 in the faceoff dot. Cowen had 4 hits (second only to noted pugilist Erik Karlsson) and fired the shot that got the overtime goal play going, all while also playing a team-high 7:02 shorthanded. Great game for the rookie.
So... essentially, everyone who had a bad game bounced back. That's not terribly surprising, considering that the team was coached by a Jack Adams nominee. Amazingly enough, they're still coached by that same Jack Adams nominee, and he seems likely to win this year because once again, he was able to make adjustments with his team to counter the adversity they faced.
Good adjustments appear to be a big part of head coach Paul MacLean's playbook. We saw it all year with the injury situation. We saw it when the team was on a 5-game losing streak--a tailspin that threatened to kill its playoff hopes. We saw it in game three against Montreal when the team responded to a 3-1 loss with a 6-1 victory.
Though the Senators lost 4-1 on Tuesday, there were good signs to build off of. More importantly, there's two days to look at what went wrong and make adjustments. There's ample reason to expect a much better performance out of the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night. The only questions are: What adjustments will be made, and will they be enough to win four of the next six games?