Welcome Sens fans, Hockey fans, Sports fans, people who like a story of redemption and last-minute thrillers!
Yes sir, the Sens have done it! being 14 points out of the last NHL playoff spot and at one point having 2% (TWO PERCENT) chances of making it, they went for it and in game #82 of regular season – secured a playoff spot.
The story is simply too long and too wonderful to write in one post. I’m sure you can find all the statistics at NHL.COM, on senators.nhl.com and other websites.
As a Senators fan, I simply want to say two words to this team – THANK YOU!
Taking it one shift at a time, these guys chipped away at the deficit and at the doubt that ate at many of the fans about their ability to do the seemingly impossible. Sure, in December 2014 we were all but thinking about the next season. But when the team responded the way it did to the coaching change and began to rally behind each other, we knew. We just knew these guys had it in them.
Today, playoff spot in hand, we – the fans – know, and we know the players know it too.
Everything is possible
Just let this little tidbit bounce in your head for a while – since February 18th, 2015 the Senators are simply the best team in the NHL. The numbers speak for themselves. We have a better record than all and the team has improved on every single aspect of the game – 5 on 5, Power play, PK. They may not lead every category, but when you up your game on all of them, at a certain point you will simply have the edge.
Can the Senators win a best of 7 games against any NHL team – You bet your behind they can. 20-1-2? In order to win a cup, a team must win 16 times, 4 times at a time.
They CAN do it. This is the treat these guys can give themselves for this unbelievable run!
But regardless of what happens now, I’d like to –
Say thank you to each and every Senator!
#2 Jared Cowen – This guy got tons of criticism last year and up until this run, and sure, he has things to learn. But I could already see improvement on aspects we saw him struggle with. e.g. better and quicker decision-making, moving the puck inside the D zone.
#3 Marc Methot – Just look at Karlsson’s improvement since Methot returned to the lineup. So much composure, intelligence and physical play (360 Hip-Check TM). This guy came back right on time!
#4 Chris Phillips – Sidelined for a very long time. I think we can fairly safely assume this might be the beginning of the end for a wonderful career of a really good defense men and a role model for the big group of youngsters around him.
#5 Cody Ceci – He may be -4, but he’s also a proof that this piece of statistic is not very reliable. The opposite of what I can say about this guy. Became a solid anchor on the defense and shows a lot of brain on the ice.
#6 Bobby Ryan (AKA BFR) – While it’s true Bobby didn’t accumulate as many goals as some might expect, and it’s true that even through this wonderful run he didn’t score much, watching Bobby on the ice is a really rewarding experience. For his slowed scoring pace, Ryan paid back with intensity, commitment and some REALLY sweet moves. A bit of an unsung hero of this run, Bobby put his body on the line night after night, through sickness and in good health.
#7 Kyle Turris – I’d like to apologize here. When Spezza left, I was worried. But I ate a huge piece of humble pie, all due to this magnificent player. Dominating face offs on many nights, giving the Sens more possessions than they had in the beginning of the season. Upped his physical play and his defensive play became a thing of beauty. What a 1st liner we got here in Ottawa!
#9 Milan Michalek – Every season we hear the “let him go, he’s done” comments and while this might have been tempting while Milan struggled with injuries, he was a real key player during the recent run. Reminding everyone that there are very few fore-checkers like him. Killing penalties? No problem. Call 9MM!
#10 Shane Prince – It was really nice to know ya 🙂 Played 2 games and even had an assist on one of them. While he didn’t do much (2 games), I still think we saw that there’s a future in the near future.
#14 Colin Greening – I admit. Not his greatest moments. But no player goes on the ice and contributes nothing. You can see he tried and worked hard. It doesn’t always work and I’ll be damned if I can dump it all on Greening. Still, with prospects like Prince and others… I’m not so sure we would see him for very much longer.
#15 Zack Smith – Another guy who seemed to get lost in the mix. Again, I can’t and won’t dump on this guy. We’ve seen him play better.
#16 Clarke MacArthur – Minus 8 as of April 7th, but perhaps the best example of how this stat is skewed. Big Mac missed a big chunk of that wonderful streak and judging by the form he was on the tail end of that run, you can bet your ass he’d be a plus had he not been injured. How about a pair against the #1 seed in a “live or die” away game?
#17 David Legwand – Perhaps not the strongest offensive threat, but I don’t think that’s why he came. 9 goals on is line is a fair expectation and he brought intensity and physicality along. I like this guy.
#22 Erik Condra – Oh the polarity… On the one hand I could rip out the few hairs I still have on my head when he seems to miss a great chance after the other, but on the other hand I got to stand and applaud when he reminds us what a great defensive forward he is.
#25 Chris Neil – Ottawa’s darling and a very sensitive issue. Injured and sidelined for a long time, there’s not much I can say. Only that I do not envy the coaching staff when he’s healthy and ready to strap them on. When Chris is on, and disciplined he’s the Nieler we all love. Sometimes he seems to lose it a little.
#26 Matt Pumpel – What a bright future. What a great forward. Cheeky, energetic and very skillful. It took him a very short time to start finding his way in the big league and when he comes back from injury he’ll play a good role in the development of this hockey club.
#27 Curtis Lazar – This guy… the constant smile, the level of energy and intensity he brings. Does not take nights off. The junior tournament must have really done the job, because Lazar became part of the most intense and enthusiastic line.
#30 Andrew Hammond – Really? Is there anything I can say that haven’t already been said? Is this a dream? Are you kidding me? 20-1-2 to begin his NHL career? NHL all time record? Allowing the team to play their back side off, shutting down the Rangers on a do or die away game? Stopping pucks with literally every part of his body and gear? THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Hamburglar! What a spectacular head ache Coach Cameron has all of a sudden.
#32 Chris Driedger – When you get to relieve the Hamburglar for 23 minutes and don’t allow a goal I got to say thank you Chris!
#40 Robin Lehner – Ok, so out of our 3 goalies, Robin has the lowest save % and did not have a stellar season. Was injured at a time that forced the calling of a newbie called Andrew Hammond. It was almost a sport among certain Sens fans to come down hard on Lehner for “letting the team down” and a 101 other accusations when it’s pretty clear by this magnificent run, that the team did not play to even a half of their potential. Will have to make a case for himself in light of the phenomenal performance by #30.
#41 Craig Anderson – Another guy who took a lot of heat from fans. Another guy who’ve played behind an under-performing team and though at times he did under perform himself, deserves our thanks and appreciation.
#44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau – JGP is one of these guys who were criticized by previous coaching staff and answered with an inspiring can-do attitude. Size matters? not to Pageau. This guy will outplay anyone on the ice. Always push forward, does not know the meaning of quit, a real #Pesky Senator and how about contributing at key moments with Shorties, always finding the Habs net? Or being one of the go-to face-off guys?
#46 Patrick Wiercioch – Nothing spectacular, but that’s not what he’s paid for. Steady and consistent play during this run, playing responsibly and physically and hell, why not throw a GWG when it counts!
#61 Mark Stone – After every game, the Sens are looking for “Mark’s man of the match”. and after every game it’s completely reasonable to name this Mark as it. Don’t even get me started on stats. This guy is a PUCK MAGNET! king of the take aways (League-wise, not only among rookies). 26 goals? Alfie, can you hear that? If Stone doesn’t win the Calder award, then I have to seriously doubt reason.
#62 Eric Gryba – How about Grybes? A guy who took so much crap from the fans and made so much progress. Stupid penalties? Giveaways? pretty much a thing of the past. Wanna hear something funky? He’s +11 to Karlsson’s +7 and that’s not to knock our captain because…
#65 Erik Karlsson – Captain, Oh Captain! What a disastrous beginning and what a phenomenal bounce. Since Methot returned, King Karl bounce from a -9 to plus 7, setting a new personal scoring record – mind you again, in a year that started REALLY bad – and leading the Senators charge for the playoffs. Want to hear another funky tidbit? The Flyers strongest offensive forward had a career high of 22 goals. ONE more than our defender. When Karlsson plays his man and relies on positioning rather than trying to stick the puck, he is BY FAR the best defense man in the league.
#68 Mike Hoffman – Who said “rookie”? of the league’s top 5 rookies, the Senators have 2, and if not for Stones absolutely phenomenal performance, Hoffman would look even better than he does. and that guy’s on our 2nd (and sometimes 4th!) line! Ryan has a slow season in terms of scoring? No problem, this jet-ski stepped in and finished the regular season as the TOP scorer! Thank you Mike!
#74 Mark Borowiecki – Borocop was a real enforcer. Very few unnecessary penalties and a good balance between physicality and responsibility and Boro finished very strong at +15. And all of a sudden, the Sens defense doesn’t look as shaky as it once did.
#90 Alex Chiasson – Yeah, like many, I was totally overlooking the fact that Alex scored 11 goals this year. What he lacked on scoring though, we saw paying off on aggressive fore-checking and lots of positive energy.
#93 Mika Zibanejad – Another guy who frustrated the life out of the coaching staff last year and my personal favorite for most improving Senator. Where Mika seemed almost apathetic at times last season, we see a fully committed player, playing a physical, fast paced game. Shooting the puck, making some really good decisions (not all of which get credit). It’s in the little things. What to do now, and more importantly what NOT to do. Mika has matured and showed us we have a reliable 20+ goals scorer with a lot of hockey to play in years to come!
#1 Coach Dave Cameron: Sir, I don’t know what you did. Whether you gave the boys a secret potion, or simply knew how to speak to them, but your contribution is, perhaps the most obvious one. It’s plenty apparent that the players respond to your directions (even mid games, mid shifts). For bringing the best out of this great group of players and getting them to really play as a team – THANK YOU COACH!
Thank you Sens! Let’s go after that Stanley’s trophy!