After finishing the regular season on a 22-4-4 run, the hottest team in hockey heading into the post season finds itself in a hole. In their first round match-up with the Montreal Canadiens, the Senators find themselves down 3-0 and are the verge of being swept in the first round. Heading into the post-season no one expected Andrew Hammond and the Senators to cool down this quickly against the injured Habs.
The biggest question heading into game of this series, was whether or not cinderella Andrew Hammond would be able to keep par with likely Vezina winning goaltender Carey Price. While Hammond hasn’t been horrible, he has not been anywhere good enough to steal games for the Senators like he did in the regular season.
However, not all blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of Hammond, as good goaltending is only half the battle. While it’s great to see a player like Clarke MacArthur contributing in the postseason, having him as the Senators leading scorer through three games is not ideal to long-term success.
Several key players have gone silent for the Senators when the team has needed them the most. Where have these silent Senators been?
1. Bobby Ryan
Pagging Mr. Ryan, please report to the Canadian Tire Centre as your teams first round series has already begun. It’s just about time to file a missing persons report for Bobby Ryan who has been an absolute no-show for the Senators. It’s been awhile since Bobby Ryan found the back of the net with the Senators, in fact the last time he scored a goal was 15 games ago against the Boston Bruins back in March and in that same span he has just 4 assists.
Ryan is paid the big bucks to deliver as the teams sniper and offensive leader. He’s the type of player who can make a difference, and with his team down 3 games and facing elimination, it’s time for Ryan to step his game up and take the puck to the net. Even a fluke goal off a lucky bounce could be just what this sniper needs.
2. Mika Zibanejad
Another player the Senators were counting on to help out the offensive this post season, Zibanejad has just one goal and has been a disappointment. While he is still playing a physical brand of hockey, the Senators also need to see him find the back of the net if they have any hope of beating the Habs.
After a 51 point regular season where Zibanejad finally created his own niche and rounded into form, the Senators are looking for more out of the promising youngster who will be up for a new contract this offseason. Should Zibanejad get hot and help the Senators upset the Habs it should make for a decent pay-day for the upcoming RFA.
3. Eric Gryba
Gyrba’s horrible turnover in-game two of the series eventually led to the overtime demise of the Senators. A simple blemish that left his team reeling a tough overtime loss. The veteran defenceman has had a rough series on the blue line. He has 0 points and has looked lost on the ice, at times unable to keep up with the pace of play around him. The Habs are fast and the Senators defence has had a very difficult time shutting down that speed and Gryba has been burned.
Gryba has not looked good at all and there is even talk of replacing him on the blue line with Jared Cowen who is waiting in the winds. If given the chance in-game four, Gryba needs to up his game and become a difference maker for the Senators.
Overall the Ottawa Senators have not looked horrible in their first round match-up; the Montreal Canadiens have simple been the better team. If rookies Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman can step up their game along with Bobby Ryan, Mika Zibanejad and the a goaltender can steal a game, then the Senators will have a chance.
Caitlin is a former goaltender who turned journalist after a few too many concussions. She’s a Buffalo Sabres fan living in the hockey crazed market of Toronto. She’s spent time writing with Chat Sports, Fansided and The Fourth Period. Her work has been featured on Puck Daddy, Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated and Grantland among others.