Senators notebook: New goalie, same plan

It’s safe to assume the Ottawa Senators coaching staff spent at least some part of Wednesday going over game video of Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj, looking for strengths and weaknesses.

MONTREAL — It’s safe to assume the Ottawa Senators coaching staff spent at least some part of Wednesday going over game video of Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj, looking for strengths and weaknesses.
In the one regular season game in which Budaj played against the Senators, they found a lot of holes, scoring five goals on 27 shots in a 5-1 win on Jan. 30.
Canadiens No. 1 goaltender Carey Price is questionable for Thursday’s Game 5 after suffering an undisclosed lower body injury (it’s believed to be either a hip or a groin problem) at the tail end of Game 4, forcing Budaj to take over in overtime.
Yet the Senators coaching staff and players insist they aren’t going to change their game plan based on which goaltender is in the net.
“They have two good goalies,” said defenceman Erik Karlsson. “Carey is their No. 1 guy, but I think they have full confidence in their second guy, too. We have to approach him the same way we approached Carey.”

GRYBA GRABS SPOTLIGHT … AGAIN

When Sportsnet’s Ian Mendes asked Eric Gryba Wednesday if the Senators needed to have a killer instinct to finish off the Canadiens, Gryba responded with a fairly standard cliché.
“We can smell blood,” Gryba said. “We can taste blood. And it’s time to put them away.”
Under normal circumstances, the quote might be filed away somewhere, background noise with the Canadiens on the brink of elimination.
Given the context, however, it fast became an object of social media disaffection for Canadiens fans, still steaming about Gryba’s crushing open ice hit on Canadiens centre Lars Eller in the opening game of the series.
Gryba has already paid the price with a two-game suspension — two games longer than many inside the game claimed he should have received — but he knows there will be some verbal heat when he makes his return to the Bell Centre.
“I’m expecting to get a little more attention than I have in the past, but that’s all part of a spectator sport and the fans bring a different element to the games and that’s exciting and that’s the way it should be,” he said.
Gryba also said there were few examples of the Canadiens going out of their way for retaliation against him in Game 4 in Ottawa. When reminded of Brandon Prust’s first period roughing penalty for elbowing him in the head, he said, “I’m sure he got an earful from his coach for that. With the series the way it is, you can’t afford to take dumb penalties.”

VEZINA SNUB FOR ANDERSON

If Craig Anderson was bitter about not being one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, he’s hiding those feelings in public.
“It didn’t even cross my mind,” he said. “Right now, we have a bigger goal. I wouldn’t trade this situation.”
Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks, Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers were nominated for the Vezina, based on balloting by the NHL’s general managers.
If it’s any consolation, few people can dispute the fact that Anderson was the NHL’s best goaltender during the 24 games he did play during the regular season, finishing tops in goals against average (1.69) and save percentage (.949).
During the opening four games of the playoffs, perhaps the most impressive statistic is that he hasn’t allowed a goal beyond the second period. He has stopped all 36 third period shots and the one overtime shot he faced before Kyle Turris’s game winning goal Tuesday. He has a 2.00 average and .941 save percentage during the post-season.

SPEZZA MAKING STRIDES

The longer the Senators keep playing in the playoffs, the better the odds are that Jason Spezza could possibly see action. While Senators coach Paul MacLean was quick to temper enthusiasm about a speedy return for Spezza, who has had a slower-than-expected recovery from back disc surgery, he said the Senators centre is “into the next stage of his rehab.”
MacLean insists there’s no timetable for him to return to practice with the team.
“We’re hoping that he can progress as quickly as he can, but at the same time, it has to be done properly,” the coach said. “He has elevated his work schedule and the final stage is being able to practice with the team.”
While some fans have wondered why Spezza isn’t travelling with the team during the playoffs, it’s normal practice for an injured player to stay at home until he’s capable of practicing with the squad.

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