The first game of 2017 playoff series between Ottawa
Senators and Boston Bruins was an energetic one. These two teams have never met in NHL playoffs before. Ottawa swept the regular season series 4-0 and is looking for the same scenario in the playoffs, but the first game showed us how different it is to play in the regular season and in the playoffs. Boston took the game 2-1 at Ottawa, are the Bruins actually the favorites? What strategy does Ottawa need in order to advance?
Everything comes from a good defensive strategy
The first period was pretty intense as both teams showed great forecheck, Ottawa was among top 5 teams in hits throughout the season and they showed that they want to keep it up. You can’t have a good defense without good hitters. Their defense showed a lot, but defense wears out if they have to kill a lot of penalty minutes. The amount of pressure Boston applied on the power play was huge. Senators‘ goalie Craig Anderson stood tall as expected but can he keep it up like that against good PP and a lot of time on PK? Well, there are 2 outcomes.
- The defense is very mobile, aggressive and doesn’t allow a lot of shots. That requires quite a lot of energy but can be discouraging for the opposing team and they may get frustrated. But the Bruins aren’t like that, you need experienced players who stay concentrated and who know when to apply the biggest pressure. If this aggressiveness does not work, you wasted a lot of energy for nothing. You will fall off in the 3rd period or 1st OT, 2nd OT… and that is what happened in game 1.
- Very risky penalty killing which depends on your goalie. In this scenario, the defense is not that aggressive, but you allow a lot of shots. Some of them may be blocked and some will get through to the goalie. But at least your defense will have more energy for the rest of the game.
Sounds simple when you read it, but there is a huge factor involved: Erik Karlsson.
#65 didn’t play last 2 games of regular season and he came back, but he didn’t get nearly as many shifts as he usually gets. He is one of the best penalty killers on the team since he has by far the biggest amount of blocked shots in the league. If you can put Karlsson in, you go with the 2nd scenario but what if he isn’t at his best?
What to do?
Simple. Stay concentrated, don’t make unnecessary penalties. In the 2nd period, the Bruins didn’t have a single shot on the net! How huge is that? Every attempt was blocked. On the other side, Tuukka Rask was great but Craig Anderson along with Senators discipline will be the key in this series. That is why Sens fans should be optimistic about the first round. Sens need to keep up with their plan but simply reduce penalties!
Ottawa in 6.