OTTAWA – An anemic power play has been a thorn in the side of the Ottawa Senators for some time. Now, as the Senators to prepare to face the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series Saturday night (7 p.m. ET, CNBC, CBC, RDS), the team and its coach were forced to address the issue yet again. .
"It's no secret; we're going to try and get shots and bodies in front," team captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "We've had a couple of good looks on and off, but it hasn't been consistent and I believe, especially on the road, it's even more important to have the power play give you a spark. [In Game 2] we had our chances right before the [Canadiens] scored in the second period, and if we had scored there, it could have been the difference in the game."
But that spark never came, leading to more of the same for the Senators this season. During the final eight regular-season games, Ottawa went 2-for-29 on the man advantage -- the Senators were 25-for-157 for the season, leaving it tied with the New Jersey Devils for 20th in the League with a 15.9 percentage rating.
Through two postseason games, the Senators have had nine shots during six power plays. The penalty kill of the Canadiens finished No. 23, in the regular season, with zero shorthanded goals. However, in addition to the lack of power-play success, Ottawa has also faced seven shorthanded shots from Montreal so far in the series. When coach Paul MacLean was confronted with the opinion that his power play has been "horrific", MacLean was forced to agree.
"It has been [horrific], for sure," MacLean said. "I think we are working diligently at it, but we're still hitting roadblocks. I think the big thing, for me, is that we don't shoot the puck enough. We're too stagnant and predictable in what we do. We're going to work to change that. I think our power play has gotten marginally better in the two games that we've played. Having [Erik] Karlsson on it, that's made a huge difference. But [Friday] we could have really used some production and we didn't generate any goals.
"The Canadiens are a team that attacks during the penalty kill. We have to be taking care of the puck better than we are."
Throughout the regular season, Mika Zibanejad, Kyle Turris, Patrick Wiercioch and Alfredsson all tied for the team lead with three power-play goals each. Wiercioch, who has yet to enter into the postseason lineup, admitted that he's champing at the bit to return and hopefully assist on special teams.
"Obviously if I draw back in, I want to contribute," Wiercioch said. "I don't know when that will be, but whatever situation they put me in, I'd be willing to work towards that. We're all trying to work towards a common goal in this locker room – getting the power-play going and winning games. Of course I want to help."