Morning skate update: Senators wary of hobbled Habs

In the big picture, the Ottawa Senators have three shots at knocking the injury-plagued Montreal Canadiens out of the playoffs.

Morning skate update: Senators wary of hobbled Habs
Montreal Canadiens goaltenders Peter Budaj, left, and Carey Price pass each other during the team's practice Monday, April 29, 2013 in Brossard, Que. Montreal will play the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – In the big picture, the Ottawa Senators have three shots at knocking the injury-plagued Montreal Canadiens out of the playoffs.
But they’re doing their best convince themselves that it’s now or never for themselves, too.
“Our approach is that we’re desperate to win a playoff series,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said following Thursday’s morning skate at the Bell Centre. “We haven’t done that since I’ve been here.”
In terms of motivation, MacLean can try and inspire his players by looking back at a year ago, when the Senators held a 3-2 first-round series lead over the New York Rangers, but then dropped Games 6 and Game 7 to lose the series.
The Senators are wary of giving any life to a Canadiens team which is now without a slew of star players – including goaltender Carey Price, captain Brian Gionta and feisty checkers Brandon Prust and Ryan White.
Back-up goaltender Peter Budaj faces ridiculous pressure to backstop the Canadiens to three consecutive victories to win the series, while Ottawa native Michael Blunden will take Prust’s spot in the lineup.
The Senators insist, however, there’s no room for overconfidence. MacLean pointed out that Budaj had an 8-1-1 record this season.
“That’s a pretty good goalie,” MacLean said. “We know he’s a good goalie and we have to make sure we play hard and make it difficult for him to play his position.”
The one regulation defeat, however, came against the Senators, a 5-1 loss on Jan. 30 when Budaj stopped only 22 of 27 shots.
Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, who shared the net with Budaj when both were in Colorado and remains good friends with him, says nobody should take him lightly.
“He played really well for them down the stretch,” said Anderson. “Peter has one of the best work ethics I’ve ever seen.”
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says ideally the Senators would like to start better than they did in Game 4, when they came out flat and didn’t show much energy until the final minutes when they stormed back from a 2-0 deficit before winning on Kyle Turris’s overtime goal.
“Getting the fourth one, everyone talks about it being the toughest one and it is hard,” Alfredsson said. “The other team is on the brink and they’re going to give it everything they have. They know their season is done if they don’t give it everything they have. For us, it’s a matter of matching that desperation.”
Alfredsson insists the Senators won’t allow complacency to set in.
“We saw that in Game 2, they had quite a few guys out and played a good game,” he said. “Nobody underestimates their team and their ability. They will be feisty, aggressive and we have to try and be the one to initiate. Hopefully we play our best game of the series so far. We don’t look at it like we have three chances.”

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