It was the kind of playoff performance Ottawa Senators’ fans haven’t seen nearly enough of over the years. The Sens came out with a heavy forecheck and forced a medicore Penguin defence into making errors in its own end. It was almost exactly the keys to victory I wrote about in yesterday’s blog. Throw in timely scoring and relentless physical play and you had most of the elements of the Stanley Cup formula.
The Sens threw a perfect game at Pittsburgh, thumping them 6-3 at the Bank last night.
I’ve heard a lot of people say the Pens will be a different squad on Saturday for Game 2. Maybe. But if the Sens play that hard again, I think the Pens will be exactly that squad on Saturday. In fact, if they can bottle up what they did last night and roll it out 15 more times, we’ll be planning the parade. But, of course, that’s a whopper of an “if”.
I felt exactly this impressed in 2002 when the Sens opened the second round with a dominating 5-0 win over Toronto. The Sens couldn’t follow it up and lost Game 2 in triple overtime. The game winning hero? Gary Roberts. Too often I’ve seen Ottawa teams have a great game like this then behave as if it somehow carries meaning into the next game. It’s like they think the 4 goal lead from Game 1 is still in play in Game 2.
Bryan Murray and Daniel Alfredsson will likely spend a little time today and tomorrow letting the players know they’ve done nothing yet. Nothing. Keep the hard work and the respect for your opponent going. Lose either element and you’re done.
Being a big fan of harbingers, it's only the Northeast that has given the Sens playoff fits over the years. Against the Atlantic Division, the Senators are 4-1 all-time in the playoffs. They beat New Jersey in 1998, Philadelphia in 2002 and '03 and the New York Islanders in '03. They lost to the Devils in the conference final in '03. Lousy Devils.