The Ottawa Senators are going Back to the Future – they hope.
Heading into Game 5 tonight at Consol Energy Center and faced with the distinct possibility of elimination by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Senators are shaking up their lines.
Jason Spezza, recently returned from back surgery and still finding his skates, is back centering captain Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek, two wingers he had great success with over the past few years.
“Hopefully we can find some old chemistry,” Spezza said following the team’s morning skate.
“It’s going to be exciting,” added Alfredsson. “We’ve played before and we had success.”
Alfredsson figures the three will be able to use their speed and familiarity with each other to have more possession of the puck in the Penguins’ zone – “and hopefully get some scoring chances off of that.”
Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean, who had kept the line apart in the hopes of spreading out scoring – scoring that hasn’t happened, for the most part – told reporters that the threesome was considered “a line that we could always go to” in a time of need.
Never has the need been greater. The Penguins want to clinch the series in front of their home fans, something that has eluded them over the past several playoff series they have played.
“The fourth win is the hardest one,” said Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke, who has been particularly effective against the Senators.
The Senators are going to have to make sure it’s the hardest one after their dismal outing back home, when they lost 7-3 to the powerful Penguins on Wednesday.
“I’m sure they’re not going to give up,” said James Neal, one of Pittsburgh’s stars in that game.
“They’re not going to roll over.”