Bobby Ryan will begin a seven-year, $50.75 million contract with the Ottawa Senators next season and he’s given them some cause for concern. The four time 30-plus goal scorer is coming off of a lukewarm regular season where he managed just 18 markers in 78 contests. He was also quiet the opening four games of Ottawa’s first round series against Montreal.
The 28-year-old ended a 16-game goal scoring drought tonight though with a nice shot through traffic that found its way past Canadiens goaltender Carey Price:
Montreal jumped ahead 3-0 in this series. Ottawa stayed alive with a 28-save shutout from goaltender Craig Anderson in Game 4, but the Senators clearly need others to step up as well if they are going to dig themselves out of this sizable hole. Ryan breaking out at this stage would be a big boost for them when they need it the most.
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 benefit of being a Cinderella Story is that you get very familiar playing in must-win games. Ottawa needed to go on an incredible 21-3-3 just to make the playoffs. Compared to that a four-game winning streak doesn’t sound so daunting. The Seantors were down 3-0 in the first round going into tonight’s contest, but they stayed alive for at least one more game by earning a 1-0 victory over Montreal tonight.
As has been the case so often for Ottawa in recent months, goaltending was the story. Craig Anderson, who had lost the starting gig to Andrew Hammond by the end of the season, got the nod for the second straight game and turned aside 28 shots to earn his third career playoff shutout.
His efforts proved critical as netminder Carey Price and the Canadiens were very effective at shutting down the Senators. Two of Ottawa’s top forwards, Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan, were once again held off the scoresheet in this first round series. Not that they were alone in that tonight as 25-year-old rookie Mike Hoffman accounted for the game’s only goal:
Of course a team winning Game 4 after falling behind 3-0 isn’t unheard of, but actually pulling off a reverse sweep is a very rare feat. Ottawa will have another must-win game on Friday.