Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saprykin a cure for Sens PP woes?

Perhaps woes might not be the most appropriate term considering the Senators' power play ranked 2nd in the playoffs at 25% efficiency (with a remarkable 33% efficiency on the road), there is still much room for improvement. A power play which features such offensive mights as Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza and Redden should ideally be scoring more often than once every four or five opportunities. When Murray feels the powerplay needs a boost of grit and willingness to crash the crease, he throws Chris Neil on as a body in front of the net. On occasions this works and it's certainly not a poor idea to mix things up when things aren't flowing smoothly. In addition to the use of Neil, I propose Saprykin can be a utile tool to infuse an impotent power play with a little energy and enthusiasm.

In the March 3rd game against Chicago, Murray rewarded Saprykin's energetic play (including an impossible-angle goal on Patrick Lalime), with a slot on the powerplay. Saprykin's role was the stand in front of the net and cause trouble; he did just that, giving the defender trouble and distracting Lalime enough to allow an Alfredsson goal. In his two playoff games, he has shown an unexpected tenacity and willingness to shot from any angle, crash the crease with abandon, and generally do whatever it takes. He's been accused of running around like "a chicken with its head cut off". This may be exactly what we need to beat such a sound goalie as Brodeur or Lundqvist; someone unpredictable and unbalanced to get in a goaltender's face and distract him enough to allow the stars to work their magic. If he is given control of the puck, he'll shoot from anywhere and everywhere and Heatley will surely be buzzing around the net to pick up the garbage, or vice versa. It's worth a shot, at least.