Senators vs Canadiens Game 3 Recap: Coaching With Emotion

(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Sunday May 5th, 2013

Game Recap: Tactical game plans give way to emotional motivation resulting in a superheated rivalry.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Senators lead best of 7 series 2-1.

2nd seed East
7th seed East
MontrealCanadiens  Ottawa_Senators_logo



 FINAL 1 2 3 OT T
 Canadiens 1 0 0 1
 Senators 1 1 4 6

Top Scorers:

  • Rene Bourque 1G
  • Tomas Plekanec 1A
  • Brian Gionta 1A
  • Jean-Gabriel Pageau 3G 
  • Daniel Alfredsson 1G 2A
  • Sergei Gonchar 2A
  • Erik Karlsson 2A

Scoring Summary:

G Per Time Str Team Goal Scorer Assist Assist
1 1 5:58 PP OTT 11 D.ALFREDSSON(1) 55 S.GONCHAR(1) 65 E.KARLSSON(2)
2 1 14:34 PP MTL 17 R.BOURQUE(2) 14 T.PLEKANEC(2) 21 B.GIONTA(1)
3 2 4:40 EV OTT 44 J.PAGEAU(1) 55 S.GONCHAR(2) 3 M.METHOT(2)
4 3 1:18 EV OTT 44 J.PAGEAU(2) 25 C.NEIL(1) 2 J.COWEN(1)
5 3 7:00 EV OTT 7 K.TURRIS(1) 11 D.ALFREDSSON(2) 65 E.KARLSSON(3)
7 3 18:02 EV OTT 44 J.PAGEAU(3) 22 E.CONDRA(1) 11 D.ALFREDSSON(3)


Shots on Goal:

 FINAL 1 2 3 OT T
 Canadiens 12 11 11 34
 Senators 11 10 9 30



Carey_PriceCarey Price

Record: 1-2-0
SA: 30
Sv%: .800

Anderson CraigCraig Anderson

Record: 2-1-0
SA : 34
SAVES : 33
Sv%: .971

Lineup Notes:

  • Habs starting six: Ryan White, Travis Moen, Colby Armstrong, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Carey Price
  • Scratched: Lars Eller, Jeff Halpern, Gabriel Dumont, Tomas Kaberle, Davis Drewiske, Mike Blunden, Alexei Emelin, Petteri Nokelainen, Nathan Beaulieu, Yannick Weber, Greg Pateryn, Michael Bournival, Louis Leblanc, Dustin Tokarski, Robert Mayer

What you need to know:

At a time when the trend in hockey coaching is leaning towards a tactical approach — think Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville and Dave Tippett — we observe the benches bosses in the Canadiens – Senators series heading in the opposite direction.  Coaches who are pure motivators are often thought of as throw-backs to another era, which the Rangers John Tortorella being the most obvious example.  These days the x’s and o’s aren’t completely abandoned but there is a great emphasis on revving up their charges around a theme.

For the Senators Paul MacLean, the message was intimidation. Ottawa would use an aggressive physical game along with a dose or two of thuggery to slow down the skilled, speedy Canadiens, making them a little gun shy on the forecheck or moving the puck out of their own end.  It worked like a charm in Game 1.

Prior to that game, Sens defenseman Eric Gryba stated “Being an intimidating team is something that we want to do.”  Midway through the second period, Rene Bourque had scored the tying goal as the Canadiens had turned the momentum and were dominating the Senators. In the faceoff that followed, Gryba was sent out with the message from his coach still ringing in his ears. Nineteen seconds later Gryba had eliminated Lars Eller, the Habs most effective forward, from the series.

The torch was then passed to Michel Therrien.  The Canadiens coach rallied his troops around the theme of respect. His players were inspired to elevate their games, some to career-best levels.  The motivation helped them to do all the little things right: first on the puck, fighting for rebounds, filling the shooting lanes and playing disciplined.

One of the problems with the motivational technique of coaching is shelf life. It’s hard to feed off the same emotion for very long.

(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

But for coach MacLean, it was the first playoff game at home this season — a natural place to play the intimidation card again. On the very first shift, Erik Condra cross-checked P.K. Subban and Matt Kassian upended Carey Price.  The officials played along allowing the contact to go unpenalized.

With the temperature rising in Scotiabank Place, the Senators began to ride roughshod over their opponents. The Canadiens retaliated playing right into the game-plan of their hosts. With eight minutes left in the first period Chris Phillips delivered an elbow to the head of Brendan Gallagher. Quickly Rene Bourque clashed with Daniel Alfredsson and Marc Methot took a few pokes at P.K. Subban.

The referees tried to reinsert themselves but they had already lost control of the game. The teams were determined to settle matters on their own. Coach MacLean’s mustached grin couldn’t have been wider.

The Canadiens were able to briefly stem the tide remembering the things that made them successful: quick transition game, speed on the attack and getting to the front of the net. In doing so, the Habs were able to take advantage of Craig Anderson’s weakness, throwing the puck at his feet. The Ottawa goalie does a good job of making himself big in the net to block shots but has trouble with rebound control. Bourque was able to slip one by Anderson to tie the game with a shot from the slot.

But for Therrien’s message to carry the day, the Canadiens had to remain united against a disrespectful opponent. The wheels fell off that narrative two minutes and thirty-two seconds after Bourque’s goal when Subban angrily barked at Max Pacioretty after being hit by Colin Greening when receiving a pass in the neutral zone with Montreal having a man advantage. The power-play did nothing and would be impotent for three additional opportunities.

With cracks opened in the unity parade, Ottawa struck early in the second period. Botched coverage by Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Prust left Jean-Gabriel Pageau with a clear path to the goal. A contributing factor was a lack of communication between Subban and Markov. Subban took another penalty on the same play giving the Senators extra momentum. The Canadiens remained on their heels for the remainder of the period unable to generate serious scoring chances.

Carey Price was the story of the first two periods keeping his team close. Price did what he could but was hung out to dry by his teammates. At the other end, Craig Anderson had an easy night with few dangerous scoring chances.

The Galchenyuk line was victimized again early in the third period. With the forwards caught up ice, Ottawa broke in on a 3-on-2. With Price cognizant of Greening all alone in the slot, Pageau used Jarred Tinordi as a screen for his second goal of the night. No fault by Price or Tinordi; sometimes you have to credit the shooter.

Raphael Diaz made a bad pinch and Galchenyuk failed to pick up his man, Kyle Turris, on the fourth Ottawa goal.  With 13 minutes remaining in the third period, the game was over.

Following the goal, Ryan White, who had played so well with restrained aggression in Game 2, ignited a donneybrook with all five skaters on each team throwing punches.

Zack Smith, Matt Kassian and Chris Neil celebrated the thuggery, the crowd roared and the intimidation was complete.  More players would follow to the penalty box. All that was left was a measure of humiliation.

The Senators would score two more goals. Despite Tomas Plekanec winning a defensive zone faceoff, Diaz lost a puck battle to Milan Michalek who set up Jakob Silfverberg for his second of the playoffs.  Pageau would get his third goal of the game with the Canadiens down to two lines and Plekanec playing defense.

So the question is, can coach Therrien play his emotion card — rally against the disrespectful foe — one more time?  Probably not. However, with 17 seconds left in the game, MacLean just couldn’t resist thrusting the knife a little deeper so called a timeout.  It was intended to further belittle the Canadiens and could be used by Therrien to gin up the emotion of his team and galvanize unity.

It is one route that is available to Therrien in  advance of Game 4. The other is to make significant lineup changes ditching under-performing players.  One path he has not taken to date is to take a tactical approach by making system adjustments.


  • Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta had strong games for the Habs.


  • P.K. Subban had a dreadful game completely losing his composure racking up 25 minutes in penalties, behaving selfishly and leading the team in turnovers.
  • Alex Galchenyuk had a tough night in the faceoff circle against weaker competition and was ill-equipped for the defensive responsibilities of playing center. In addition, he looked intimidated by the physicality.
  • Raphael Diaz was weak on the puck, tentative and caught out of position.
  • It is glaringly obvious that David Desharnais is not a top-6 forward and has played so poorly that he deserves to forfeit his position in the lineup.  He remains without a shot on goal in the series, is not creating offense for his teammates, is struggling on faceoffs and is a big reason that the power-play is sputtering.
  • Michael Ryder coasted through the game not registering a shot on goal.
  • Special teams. With the Senators playing on the edge, the Habs need to punish them with goals on the power-play. The penalty-kill gave up three goals tonight.

Injury/Roster Report:

  • No new injuries.

 NHL Three Stars
  1.  Jean-Gabriel Pageau
  2.  Daniel Alfredsson
  3.  Sergei Gonchar

 Post-game Chatter

Coach Michel Therrien:

  • “We got beat by a good team tonight. They played really well. I always believe you let the players dictate the game.”
  • “Calling a timeout with 17 seconds left in the game, I never saw that before. [the referee] never saw that before.”
  • “You never want to humiliate another team as a coach. This is exactly what happened tonight. It was classless.”
  • “We have to bounce back. We did all season long. We have to regroup as a team.”
(Photo by Francois Laplante/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Francois Laplante/NHLI via Getty Images)

Josh Gorges:

  • “We can be mad at them all we want, but we made a couple mental mistakes and then we let things slip away. We didn’t respond the right way. In the playoffs, at this time of year, we can’t lose our cool. I thought for a stretch there in the third we lost our heads.”

Senators coach Paul MacLean:

  • “In order to protect my players under circumstances that were instigated by the Montreal Canadiens, I was forced to protect my players.”
  • “The physicality in the first round of the playoffs is always heightened. It got a little bit stupid in the end but that’s hockey.”
  • “I thought that we handled ourselves well under the circumstances in the duress we were put under. We defended ourselves.”
  • “It got a little bit stupid in the end, but that’s hockey.”

Senators forward Chris Neil:

  • “We played a physical game. It wasn’t just three or four guys. It was everyone.”

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