Senators need breakthrough performance

Who’s it going to be? Jason Spezza? Milan Michalek? Kyle Turris? Maybe Chris Neil again? Whoever it is, the Ottawa Senators need a hero and they need him fast.

Senators need breakthrough performance

Who’s it going to be?

Jason Spezza? Milan Michalek? Kyle Turris? Maybe Chris Neil again?

Whoever it is, the Ottawa Senators need a hero and they need him fast.

They need someone like 6-foot-7 New York Rangers centre Brian Boyle, who has done it all for his team.

He got his fists into Erik Karlsson’s face in the first game of the series, didn’t raise them in the second when Matt Carkner jumped him in the opening minute, letting Carkner punch his way to a one-game suspension, and, most importantly, has scored three goals, two of which have been game winners.

That’s MVP material.

So as they head into tonight’s fourth game down 2-1 in their best-of-seven series, and probably without Daniel Alfredsson for the second straight game, the Senators are looking for their own version of Brian Boyle.

“Sure,” said Senators coach Paul MacLean after Tuesday’s practice.

“On every team, someone can be the hero.

Chris Neil stepped up for us in Game 2, he scored a big goal for us.

“Consistently, we’ve had some players who have played pretty (well). Turris has been pretty consistent. If he could generate that one more scoring opportunity, we might have that guy.

“But we need somebody, I think it’s our power play, to step up and get us some goals. That would be a big help for us.

“I guess that would lead to Jason Spezza, and (Milan Michalek), and Sergei (Gonchar), and Karlsson. Our best players always have to be your best players.”

It’s not as if Spezza and Michalek don’t know this.

As two of the team’s top three offensive players, their job is to score, and all they have to show so far is one assist each.

Spezza ended the regular season with two goals in his last three games, even with the birth of his second daughter as a distraction.

But Michalek has been cold. He has just one assist in his last six games and is predictably frustrated.

“It’s the playoffs and I’m trying to be patient and I keep working hard every day and nothing is going right for me so far,” he said.

“But hopefully it’s going to get better and I guess I’ll have to go in the front of the net and hopefully get some rebounds. We have to be better.”

Spezza is similarly frustrated. He has the look that Alfredsson had when he was Spezza’s age 10 years ago: As the player who tries to do too much and ends up not doing anything.

Spezza’s always dangerous with the puck, and he almost created some good chances in the second game, in particular a pass to Turris that he just couldn’t handle.

But Spezza was just off, as if he were trying a bit too hard.

“It’s been a tight series offensively, and we didn’t get much power-play time, the way the power plays fell in the last game, but we’ve had success this year when our line has scored,” he said.

“We’ve worked real hard and we’ve created a lot of chances, but we haven’t been able to score.

“We definitely feel if we can get going offensively and maybe get it started in the next game, it can kind of springboard to everybody scoring and everybody getting confidence.

“Yeah, you definitely feel the brunt of the pressure when you come off a shutout in a playoff game. You just have to work at it and be better in the next game.”

MacLean said Alfredsson’s absence doesn’t necessarily put more pressure on Spezza and Michalek. They’re already carrying pressure every day as the team’s top offensive players.

But it’s a different game in the playoffs.

“They’re close, so that’s good, but the Rangers are checking pretty close,” said MacLean.

“It’s the time of year when things happen real fast, where you don’t get the time and space that maybe you’d like to have.

“We need to create a little bit more of that time and space, and maybe do things a little bit quicker ourselves to create those opportunities when they’re there.

“They just have to continue to play and push themselves to continue to play hard.”

Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist is showing just how formidable he can be in net. He stopped all 39 shots he faced on Monday, the toughest of which was a rebound from Turris in the final minute. Alone in front, Turris got good wood on the shot, but Lundqvist got his right pad on it.

Like everyone else, Turris is frustrated, but said the only solution is to be better.

“I’m just always trying to chip in and help out on the score sheet or defensively,” he said.

“With (Alfredsson) being out, everybody’s trying to step their game up just that little bit extra and trying to fill the void as a team.”

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