OTTAWA (AP) — The Senators need someone to rise to the moment.
Ottawa likely will be without captain Daniel Alfredsson on Wednesday when it hosts the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their first-round series. Alfredsson didn’t practice Tuesday because of a concussion and his status is day to day.
“Nothing’s changed,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean, the day after his team lost 1-0 to fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is Saturday in New York. “We are going to evaluate it in the morning. If he’s better and things go good, we will evaluate the lineup and we’ll make decisions then.”
With Alfredsson out, the Senators will need someone to step up. Ottawa is 0-3 in the postseason when playing without Alfredsson.
Two of Ottawa’s most productive offensive players during the season — Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek — have just one assist each in the series. Though the Rangers have played the two tightly, more is expected of Ottawa’s top two scoring forwards.
“We’ve had success this year when our line’s scored offensively so we’ve worked real hard,” Spezza said. “We’ve created a lot of chances, but we just haven’t been able to score. We definitely feel if we can get going offensively and maybe get a start in next game and score from there it could kind of springboard into everybody scoring and everybody getting confidence.
“As an offensive guy you definitely feel the brunt of the pressure when you come off a shutout playoff game, so you just try to work at it and get better next game.”
With just four shots on goal through three games Michalek admits to feeling pressure.
“It’s playoffs and I’m just trying to stay patient and keep working on it every day,” Michalek said. “Nothing has really went for me so far, but hopefully it’s going to get better. I have to go in front of the net and hopefully get some rebounds.”
From the start of the series, the Rangers knew they must control the Senators’ top line.
“They’ve had their chances, they’ve had opportunities,” New York captain Ryan Callahan said. “You just have to try and contain them the best you can and limit those opportunities, and when they do get them you have to have (Henrik Lundqvist) come up with big saves.”
MacLean says Spezza and Michalek would likely benefit if the team can finally get its power play to click. Ottawa is 1-for-10 with the man advantage through three games.
“They just have to continue to play and push themselves to continue to play hard,” MacLean said. “I think our power play could be a big key for us in creating some offense. It’s been a big part of us winning games in the regular season and we need to get it to produce something more for us and creating some more offense and momentum and would be a big help in creating more goals.”
But MacLean insists the onus to produce in Alfredsson’s absence shouldn’t fall squarely on Spezza and Michalek.
“When your team faces adversity it’s actually an opportunity for somebody else and I think we need to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the opportunity that it is for someone else to play,” he said. “We’re not replacing Daniel Alfredsson. We don’t have that player, but everybody that’s in the lineup can step up and make a difference and I thought we did that (Monday night).”
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