Mark Stone may draw into the lineup tonight
Mark Stone may make his first 2013 playoff appearance with the Ottawa Senators tonight, and if he does, it's a smart move by coach Paul MacLean
The Senators' official Twitter feed acknowledged that prospect Mark Stone may draw into the lineup tonight against Pittsburgh, and Don Brennan sees it as something of a sure thing. If he plays, he'll replace Cory Conacher and play on a line with Jason Spezza.
Stone made an appearance in last year's playoffs but was later removed for Jakob Silfverberg, a decision that Don Cherry thought cost the Senators the series. Don was wrong, of course, but Stone did show some flashes of brilliance during the series, particularly his beautiful assist on a Jason Spezza goal.
The reason that the Senators might now be looking to Stone, who only played four NHL games during the regular season and has been sitting out for the playoffs, is that he is likely the best option out of the healty scratches for beating Tomas Vokoun. Peter had an excellent post this morning that showed how the Senators have been scoring on Vokoun in the series, and Stone appears to fit the bill perfectly. He's a big body who is best in the dirty areas around the net and has a knack for putting in rebounds. His 41 goal season with the Brandon Wheat Kings and his excellent performance at the World Junior Hockey Championships two years ago were both built on his soft hands around the net, and that's something that could prove valuable on a goalie like Vokoun. The factors that have made Colin Greening so successful this series should work in Stone's favour, too.
Ottawa can't expect Craig Anderson to have a .980 save percentage every night, and they have to find more ways to solve Vokoun. Bringing in an inexperienced Mark Stone is certainly a risk, but it's a calculated one to attack a perceived weakness in the other goalie.