What to Watch For: Senators in desperation mode

Tim Micallef and guest host Stephen Brunt talk about the rising number of injuries in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are joined by John Shannon to talk about they cause and possible prevention of the issue.

It would be tough to find a more dominant victory than the Pittsburgh Penguins’ huge 7-0 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 on Sunday.

Now, with a 3-2 series lead, the Penguins can send Ottawa packing and punch their own ticket to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Final.

Here’s what to watch for on Tuesday night.

Penguins are the “better team”

Anyone who has been following the Senators this season knows head coach Guy Boucher doesn’t mince his words.

The bench boss was honest in his assessment of Sunday’s dismal 7-0 loss, openly admitting that the Penguins are “a better team.”

“Everybody knows that on the planet. They’re the Stanley Cup champions. They’re the best team in the league. That’s no secret,” Boucher said. “We know to beat that team, we need to be at our very, very best. And we were not.”

While it would be easy to feel bogged down in the aftermath of an ugly loss like that, Boucher’s crew won’t be bringing any Game 5 baggage to the rink Tuesday night.

“Today is a new day, and I wanted to make sure we knew what we need to focus on and reload mentally, physically, and emotionally, and move on. We can’t be sitting in our mud puddle. We’ve got to get up and go,” he said. “That’s been what we’ve done all year and all playoffs, and we’re ready to do so. Tomorrow coming in fresh and ready to go.”

Luckily, they’ll have some much-needed fresh legs after a few players got a bit of extra rest.

Karlsson, Ceci, Brassard are in

There were some noticeable absences at Senators practice on Tuesday, which caused a bit of worry in Ottawa after Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, and Derick Brassard all left Game 5 with undisclosed injuries.

So, coach, what’s the update?

“Oh, they’re playing tomorrow,” Boucher told reporters Monday.

By the time the trio of players left the game, the score was already lopsided. So, much like the Senators’ disastrous Game 4 against the New York Rangers in Round 2, the team’s best bet was to rest. Goaltender Craig Anderson was also pulled early, which means he’ll have had a longer than usual rest as well.

“It’s the same as against the Rangers,” said Karlsson. “Same mentality. Same thing.”

Based on that logic, expect a full-court push from Ottawa at home Tuesday night.

Lesson learned

The Penguins know exactly what to expect from the Senators on Tuesday night. After all, in the second round against the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh had chances to finish the series in Games 5 and 6, but dropped both before winning Game 7.

Pens captain Sidney Crosby said it presented a lesson in desperation.

“You know they’re going to come out hard,” Crosby said of the Senators. “They’re going to leave it all out there. Finding that within our group, too, finding that level of urgency and desperation, is really important.”

The Penguins may be the reigning Stanley Cup champs, but their leader thinks the ability to finish off an opponent is an area they need to work on.

“We have to learn from that and make sure it’s there,” said Crosby. “I think that it’s something that, in the playoffs, you have to get better and better to improve, and that’s one area we’ve got to make sure to improve on.”

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