OTTAWA – The Ottawa Senators realize they can’t replace veteran captain Daniel Alfredsson, but they need someone to rise to the occasion in his absence.
Ottawa will likely be without Alfredsson on Wednesday when the Senators host the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series.
Alfredsson didn’t take part in Tuesday’s practice and at this point remains day-to-day with a concussion.
“Nothing’s changed,” said Senators head coach Paul MacLean, the day after his team dropped a 1-0 decision to fall behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is set for Saturday in Manhattan.
“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 and carry the load of tying this series. Ottawa has a 0-3 record in the post-season when playing without Alfredsson in the lineup.
Two of Ottawa’s most productive offensive players in the regular season—Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek—have just one assist each in the series. Though the Rangers have played the duo 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, we’ve created a lot of chances, but we just haven’t been able to score,”said Spezza.“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, but says he just has to remain confident.
“It’s playoffs and I’m just trying to stay patient and keep working on it every day,”said Michalek, who ended the regular season pointless in the three games.“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 success would come as a result of controlling the Senators’ top line.
“They’ve had their chances, they’ve had opportunities,”said New York’s Ryan Callahan.“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 (Lundqvist) come up with big saves.”
MacLean feels Spezza and Michalek would likely benefit if the team can finally get its power play to contribute. 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,”said MacLean.“I think our power play could be a big key for us in creating some offence. 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 offence and momentum and would be a big help in creating more goals.”
However, MacLean added that the onus to produce in Alfredsson’s absence shouldn’t fall squarely on Spezza and Michalek’s shoulders.
“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,”said MacLean.“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).”
Notes: D Erik Karlsson and G Craig Anderson were given the day off for maintenance.