Senators try new look in bid to end Bruins' streak
Gilroy makes Ottawa debut, Lehner starts in goal to take aim at victory in Beantown
Tuesday, 28.02.2012 / 1:47 PM / Features
By Rob Brodie - OttawaSenators.com
|Defenceman Matt Gilroy, obtained from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, will be paired with veteran Chris Phillips as he makes his Senators debut at TD Garden in Boston against the Bruins tonight. It's a homecoming of sorts, too, for the former Boston University Terriers standout (Getty Images).
It's their execution that's been lacking.
One more time, the Senators will aim to put an end to the hex the Boston Bruins seemingly hold over them when the Northeast Division rivals face off tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m., Sportsnet East, Team 1200). The B's have notched eight straight wins against Ottawa, the most recent a 5-3 setback on Saturday night at Scotiabank Place.
In the weekend contest, the Senators got the start they wanted — Erik Karlsson hit the back of the net just 1:10 into the opening period — and the early momentum, but simply couldn't sustain it. The Bruins rattled off the next four goals, before a pair of almost identical scoring plays by captain Daniel Alfredsson made it a tense affair in the final two minutes.
"We just need to play better longer," head coach Paul MacLean said earlier today following the Senators' pre-game skate at the Garden. "The four games we've played to this point (in 2011-12), Boston has been a better team over 60 minutes. We've been competitive with them for parts of the game or lengths of the game, but not the full game.
"If we have any opportunity to win (tonight), we're going to have to be competitive and work at their level for the full 60 minutes."
The Senators will introduce a couple of significant new wrinkles into their lineup this evening in hopes of reversing that trend. Goaltender Robin Lehner, who turned aside 28 of 30 shots he faced in Sunday's 5-2 triumph over the New York Islanders and was named the game's first star, gets his first shot at the Bruins the evening.
"It's a great city and a great team," the 20-year-old Swede said when asked about facing the Cup champs tonight. "I followed them last year when they won, and I'm excited (to face them)."
Added MacLean: "We're looking forward to seeing him play here on the road in a big building. It's a good opportunity for him."
Tonight also marks the Senators debut for blueliner Matt Gilroy, who was obtained from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday in exchange for fellow defenceman Brian Lee. Gilroy is no stranger to Beantown — he played four years of college hockey with the Boston University Terriers, for whom he was a three-time All-American and a Hobey Baker Award winner in 2009 as the top player in NCAA hockey.
MacLean his anxious to see what Gilroy's puck-moving ability can bring to the Senators lineup. The 27-year-old Long Island native will start the game paired with veteran Chris Phillips.
"(Gilroy) has good size and good mobility and can make a pass," said MacLean. "So he gets the puck going up the ice, and he has the ability to join the rush and even lead the rush at times. That's the type of player we need on the back end.
"He gives us another puck-moving guy on the third pair who has the ability to bring offence and in today's game, if you're not attacking with four people, then you're not going to score goals."
For his part, Gilroy believes his style of play should fit well with the Senators.
"I like to skate, I like to join the rush and get the puck moving," he said. "I think I'm at my best when I'm moving my feet and joining the rush. There's a lot of talented players here. They like to move the puck and a lot of guys up front work with the D off the rush, so it should be exciting to play with them."
Around the boards
The Senators' top two scorers, centre Jason Spezza (28-42-70) and defenceman Erik Karlsson (14-51-65), currently rank fourth and sixth (tie) respectively in the National Hockey League scoring race. Both are currently riding hot streaks, with Spezza totalling eight goals and 20 points in his last nine games, while Karlsson has six goals and 17 points in his previous seven outings ... After sitting out eight straight games as a healthy scratch, centre Zenon Konopka returns to action tonight, while winger Kaspars Daugavins gets a night off. Gilroy's arrival keeps Matt Carkner out of the lineup ... Gilroy's No. 97 becomes the highest jersey number ever for the Senators, surpassing Stan Neckar (94) and Mika Zibanejad (93) ... Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk, who was on the receiving end of a massive hit by Ottawa forward Chris Neil in the third period of Saturday's game, won't play tonight because of a concussion ... Tim Thomas, who has an 18-3-0 record in his last 21 appearances against the Senators, gets the start in goal for Boston ... The Senators are back home at Scotiabank Place on Friday, when the Chicago Blackhawks make their first visit to the capital in two seasons (7 p.m., TSN, Team 1200).