Game 6 loss was my biggest disappointment: MacLean

Paul MacLean really didn’t have too many disappointments in his first season as an NHL head coach.
Sure, there were a couple of early season bombings by the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche, a couple of third-period giveaways, and a couple of three- and four-game losing streaks, but nothing to permanently scar the soul – nothing like the second period of Game 6 in the team’s playoff series against the New York Rangers.
It was then, believes MacLean, that his Ottawa Senators lost the playoff series, and it is, as a result, his greatest disappointment of the year.
Ahead 1-0, the Senators had two power-play chances to make it 2-0, but instead turned them into New York advantages when they took penalties of their own.
The Rangers turned those into two power-play goals, and added a third in the final minute of the period, for what would be their margin of victory.
That was when Ottawa lost the series, said MacLean.
“I think that was probably the disappointment of the season for myself,” he said.
“I feel for me that that was our opportunity. Although we played real good in Game 7 and realistically had a chance to win Game 7, as well, when you look at a playoff series and the opportunities to win them and to lose them sometimes, I thought realistically right there was an opportunity.
“We had the lead and we had two power plays during which we didn’t generate any scoring opportunities at all, and that was disappointing to me that we didn’t take charge of that situation, and I think that ended up being what cost us Game 6.
“Then we get to Game 7 and played real good, but we never had the lead.
But at that point in (Game 6) we had the lead with a real good chance to shut the door on them, and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
It was after that sequence of events that MacLean made his most controversial coaching move of the playoffs, benching the first playoff unit of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Filip Kuba, and Erik Karlsson to start the third period, and five days later MacLean said he’d do the same thing all over again.
“I wouldn’t change anything, no” he said.
As he heads into next season, MacLean said he feels like he did when he scored 36 goals as a 22-year-old player with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. That raised the bar for him then, just as this season has raised the bar for the Senators.
“I feel good about the fact that I can coach in the league,” he said.
“We’ve had some satisfaction, so I guess I give myself some credibility, to say that I can do this.
“But now, the hard part is to do it again.
“I remember when I scored 30 goals for the first time, the old guy Floyd Thomson, I was all pumped up about it, and he said, ‘Oh, yeah, now you’ve got to do it again.’
“And I feel the same way today. That’s a motivator for me, and it also scares me to death, because I know how hard it is to do.
“So I’m looking forward to it, and excited about September and getting back here for training camp, and getting started again.
“But I’m also scared to death.”
MacLean said he didn’t come into the season with any expectations and didn’t make a prediction about where the team might finish.
All he knew was that if the team competed and worked hard, it had a chance.
“I knew if we did that, we were going to like where we were at the end of the year,” he said.
“I wouldn’t have predicted that we would be where we were, but I knew I was going to like it.”
What the team needs more of next year is goals, especially in the playoffs.
While the Senators were fourth in the regular season, with 2.96 goals per game, they were 13th in the playoffs, with only 2.00 per game.
The Rangers closed the door on Erik Karlsson – holding him to one goal, an odd deflection at that – blocked 68 shots, and Henrik Lundqvist did the rest.
“I firmly believe that you have to be able to score your way to the Stanley Cup, not defend your way there, and we didn’t score enough goals,” said MacLean.
“Through the regular season we had some goal scoring by committee. In the playoffs we didn’t get the scoring from our back end that we had during the regular season. The scoring depth through our third and fourth lines wasn’t as consistent.
“But the other team made it hard for us, as well, and their defensive schemes also had a factor on it.
“I thought we generated enough scoring opportunities. We just didn’t score enough goals.”

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