The strange thing about Silfverberg’s insertion into the lineup last night is that MacLean puts such a premium on roster spots being earned through hard work. For example, last night, with the team down two goals in the third period, MacLean barely played Spezza. Where most coaches would go back to their $7MM man, MacLean knows that you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. You don’t preach work ethic all season long only to say “just kidding” when the games matter most.
So it’s puzzling that MacLean would turn to Silfverberg after finally getting what he needed out of Bobby Butler, after a strong performance by Mark Stone, who’s been practicing with the team for days, and after a season’s worth of hard work by Colin Greening.
Silfverberg didn’t look too bad for a kid who got off a plane about 24 hours earlier. He looked lost at times, falling over Michalek in front of his own end and chasing the Rangers around, but he didn’t make any glaring mistakes. The question is why we were relying on someone in that position to start with? Hype is fun, but is that all it was?
Now the Senators have a huge decision to make and only one game left. There’s no room for error. Who plays?
Jakob Silfverberg: you could always bet that he was just getting his feet wet and will be much better next game. A couple of days of practices and some time to get rid of the jet lag could do a world of good. Though you’ve gotta ask yourself why Jakob gets that benefit of the doubt. Even the best players need more than a few minutes of ice time to get acclimatized. Can he be a difference maker? Is it fair to expect him to be?
Mark Stone: did not look out of place at all in game five, though he did receive oodles of power play time after that beauty assist and wasn’t the answer to all of the Senators’ offense questions. If not for Craig Anderson, that game might have turned out very differently, and the series would be over now. Still, Stone looked composed and confident. Perhaps more importantly, he put Spezza in a position where he felt like he could shoot the puck rather than go for a stroll in the country.
Bobby Butler: he’s been patchy all season long, though of all of the options here, Butler’s played with the most desperation. It looks like MacLean’s message has finally gotten through. Oh, and he also tends to shoot the puck every once in a while, which makes one Senators player doing that.
Colin Greening: Remember him? Played on the first line pretty much all season? Greening hasn’t been killer playing with Smith and Neil, though that line has been very good thanks to Neil’s decision to annoy the ever-loving crap out of everyone in the state of New York. Greening is just a good, solid player who knows when to crash the net. Could simplifying our strategy be the answer here?
Mika Zibanejad: “Oh ah Zibanejad / say oh ah Zibanejad” has a nice ring to it.