Colorado Avalanche Fan’s Playoff Perspective: Ottawa Senators


I think the Ottawa Senators are going to get swept by the Montreal Canadiens and, thus, be the first team to exit the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As a Colorado Avalanche fan, I don’t want the Senators to get swept. They are the Cinderella story the Avalanche wanted to be. They were 14 points out of a playoff spot at the All Star Break, which was universally seen as an indicator that they’d miss the playoffs for the second year in a row. Yet they rode a hot goalie, Andrew Hammond, to glory and a Wild Card spot.

Beyond even that, Ottawa suffered that terrible shooting in downtown a few months ago. Senators captain Erik Karlsson and the team as a whole rallied behind the nation. Then, just a few days ago, their longtime assistant coach succumbed to cancer. The feels were strong for the Sens.

Unfortunately, this is playoff hockey, and those backstories mean nothing.

What I Like About the Senators

Like I said, the Senators are who the Colorado Avalanche wanted to be this season. They don’t have great stats — they’re pretty low on the Corsi scale. Yet they showed exactly how far a team can go on pure heart and grit.

Ottawa hockey is also fun to watch. With the likes of Karlsson and sniper Bobby Ryan on the team, their brand of hockey is offense-oriented. Of course, Ryan is like an Avs story in that he’s struggled to score all season — sound familiar?

Watching Karlsson is a little like watching Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. They’re both smallish for defenseman — though Karlsson has Barrie beat by two inches. They’re speedy, and they can score. Karlsson finished the season with 21 goals and 45 assists for 66 points. (Barrie earned 52 points on 12 goals and 40 assists.)

Here’s classic Karlsson:

Ottawa Down 3-0 in the Series

The Montreal Canadiens are an excellent team with one of the best goalies in the NHL. Montreal goalie Carey Price isn’t exactly clutch — he doesn’t shine in the playoffs quite like he does in the regular season, but he’s the best the Canadiens have had since you know who. (Patrick Roy — and to be clear, Price isn’t near Roy’s brilliance.)

That said, the Senators have shot themselves in the foot a couple times. They’ve taken the Canadiens to sudden-death overtime twice in this series already. Both times obviously they succumbed to Montreal. The second time was just bad — Montreal forward Dale Weise scored the game-tying goal late in the third and then got the game winner in the first OT.

A lot of Ottawa’s problem has been undisciplined play. They don’t have a lot of playoff experience, so they’re having a hard time distinguishing between intensity and crossing the line. All three games have been very physical, though, from both teams.

Senators Staying Optimistic

I’m pulling for the Senators. I don’t like the Canadiens — I think they’re too snooty. However, it’s nearly impossible to come back from a three-game series deficit. (Not impossible, as the LA Kings showed us, but pert near.)

According to the Ottawa Senators website, the players are staying upbeat despite the seemingly insurmountable odds. Karlsson said of the team’s mindset:

"“We take it one game at a time, and even though we’ve been playing better and better as the series goes on, we still haven’t found a way to win a game and that’s what we have to do now. It’s do-or-die and we only focus on Wednesday and see what happens.”"

I’d like to see the Senators win at least one game, especially in front of their home fans. As we know here in Colorado, seeing a home win, even if it doesn’t lead to anything, is at least a little balm for a bruised team spirit.

Next: Playoff Profile: Bobby Ryan

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