Game two of the Pittsburgh/Ottawa series starts tonight, and tensions are high.
With the Ottawa Senators down in the series by one, they are under the gun to find their game plan, and part of that plan is figuring out how to get the puck in the net.
How is it that a team with so much fire power can’t light a spark under their offensive powder keg? Furthermore, where are our warriors to lead the battle and defend the coveted net?
Volchenkov is unquestionably one of the Senators' most stoic warriors, and he was taken down Wednesday night while blocking a puck with his head. You can’t get tougher than that.
At a news conference today, it was revealed that Volchenkov will play tonight. When questioned about the tough defenseman’s status, GM Brian Murray said, “I asked him if he was okay to play. He said, 'It's hockey. Sometimes you have to play hurt.' That’s his attitude. I suggested he mention that to some of the other guys.”
Truer words were never spoken. Take Wade Redden. If he had half of Volchenkov’s heart and toughness, Gary Roberts probably wouldn’t have been able to score that first, fateful goal.
Now tell me, how does a 30-year-old get out-muscled by a 41-year-old?
The rest of Ottawa’s defensive team is porous. Commodore looks lost and confused most of the time, and surely hasn’t displayed any of the grit and talent he brought to Calgary and Carolina.
Phillips has been solid, but one warrior needs the help of many to do successful battle. If the Ottawa Senators' defense gathered some of the A-train’s steam, the Sen’s evil nemesis, Gary Roberts, and the high-flying Crosby and Malkin wouldn’t be able to make a dent in the team’s armour.
Their battle plan needs to hit hard, capitalize on the Penguins' weaknesses, and the team can't let up.
Part one of the battle plan accomplished. Part two is to get Ottawa’s key offensive weapons, Spez, Heatley, and Vermette, to actually score. It's surprising this is even an issue, considering Spezza and Heatley combined for 75 goals this season.
Unfortunately, they appear to have lost their marksmanship. And it’s costing the team.
While the pressure can’t be put solely on two players, Spezza and Heatley need to lead the assault. Part two of the Senator’s battle plan: get to the net, shoot hard, shoot often, and most importantly, shoot with precision.
As the Senator’s go into combat tonight, we can only hope they’ve got a plan. If they play like they did in game one, it could be a very short series. However, tougher battles have been fought where the underdog came up victorious.
It’s up to the Ottawa Senators to do battle hard, and take the series.
It has been known to happen.