Out with the old, in with the new.
That’s the strategy Ottawa will employ this evening as it looks to win its second consecutive game against Montreal and keep the series (currently 3-1 in favor of the Habs) alive — veteran Chris Neil, who played in Games 3 and 4, will be dropped from the lineup in favor of Alex Chiasson, who hasn’t played since Game 2.
Neil, 35, was a non-factor in each of the last two outings, and only played 6:06 in Game 4.
Chiasson, 24, fits with the youth movement that head coach Dave Cameron implemented upon taking the gig from Paul MacLean, and continues to push today; only two Senators in the lineup tonight are over the age of 30 (winger Milan Michalek and goalie Craig Anderson).
Meanwhile, the likes of Curtis Lazar (19 years old), Cody Ceci (21), Mika Zibanejad (21), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (22) and Calder nominee Mark Stone (22) continue to see significant minutes.
The Ottawa Senators will make a switch at center tonight against Montreal, as Zack Smith draws into the lineup at the expense of David Legwand, who’ll sit as a healthy scratch.
Smith, 27, missed a good chunk of time this season to a dislocated wrist and appeared in just 37 games. While he did play in the final 10 games of the regular season, he sat in all three of Ottawa’s losses to the Habs in this opening-round series.
Legwand, meanwhile, played in all three but was mostly a non-factor, going scoreless with a minus-3 rating and just one shot on goal.
Smith will skate on the fourth line between Mike Hoffman and Chris Neil, with the hope he can bring the energy displayed in past playoff performances. Smith appeared in 10 games during Ottawa’s ’13 run, scoring two points while racking up 31 PIM.
Erik Karlsson recorded an assist on the Ottawa Senators’ opening goal, but the offensive defenseman has also been a big factor without the puck. He’s been throwing his body around all game, including his big open ice hit on Montreal Canadiens blueliner Nathan Beaulieu, which you can see below:
The Senators captain has been credited with six hits through 40 minutes of play. That’s more than he had in any regular season contest in 2014-15. He’s not alone in playing a physical game though as Ottawa has recorded 46 so far, including nine from Chris Neil.
Down 2-0 in the series, Ottawa has a 1-0 lead going into the third period of Game 3.
Update: Although Beaulieu initially stayed in the game, he didn’t take a single shift in the third period.