It wasn’t always pretty, but the Ottawa Senators are coming home from Montreal with a split of the first two games of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series aganist the Canadiens. It was obviously an eventful couple of days, but the Senators still have much room to improve.
I am going to point the finger directly in the direction of Sergei Gonchar and the power play. While the return of Erik Karlsson was supposed to help the power play, he cannot do it by himeself. And with 65 being the primary focus of the Canadiens attention whenever he is on the ice, that should open up avenues for Gonchar, especially with the man advantage, to find a way to produce.
It hasn’t happened, at least so far.
The Senators went 0 for 6 on the power play in Montreal, including not being able to capitalize on 3 chances in about an 11 minute span in the first period with the game scoreless and Carey Price facing a lot of doubt. The Senators only fired 4 shots on goal in those 3 PP opportunities (2 from Gonchar), and the rest is history. On each of those 3 first period power plays Karlsson and Gonchar played at least 1:20 of the advantage.
The onus is on Karlsson and Gonchar to get the proper puck distribution and to get shots through on net to either score or create a rebound, or make it tippable. They are doing neither at this time, and it is frustrating to watch. Some credit has to go to the Canadiens and their maligned PK (as in penalty kill, not Subban) for putting themselves in the way and not allowing shots through. For all of the attention the Habs are paying to Karlsson, that is the opportunity for the veteran Gonchar to step up, and if he is tired from carrying the team in Karlsson’s absence, it is time to give Patrick Wiercioch a shot to try to produce with the man advantage.