Last week, I mentioned that I wouldn’t believe the Senators are a playoff team until they actually clinched a spot. Well after their dominating 5-1 victory over the Islanders on Sunday, I now have no choice.
The Sens are heading back to the playoffs after missing out last year and have now qualified for the post-season in 13 of the last 15 seasons.
A lot of fans mock the fact that Ottawa has never been able to win the big one, was never able to beat the Leafs when it really mattered, that they have a small and passive fan-base and that they’ve rarely iced a goaltender capable of stopping a beachball in the last decade and a half.
The fact is though, that the Senators have enjoyed the kind of stability and sustained success most fans and franchises dream of, and somehwere between all of that ridicule, they actually…gasp…deserve their share of credit.
If you’re like me, you might want to hit the showers before we move on to the links, because after spending a couple of minutes praising the Senators, I feel grotesque.
- As is usually the case when a team wasn’t expected to do much of anything this season, the underdog Senators can do no wrong in the playoffs (Ottawa Citizen). The question now becomes can Sens fans keep a level head and stay patient with their rebuild, or will they expect instant results again next season?
- With a playoff spot clinched and no chance of a Division title, the Senators can now set their sights on catching the Devils for sixth place in the East, which is still very much a possibility (HockeyBuzz.com). I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the significance of drawing the Panthers/Capitals in the first round instead of the Bruins.
- Little cheering accompanied the Bruins‘ Northeast Division-clinching win over the East leading Rangers on Sunday (The New York Times). I guess division “championships” and regular season titles mean nothing when you’re the defending Stanley Cup champions and have made the playoffs five years in a row. Pfft, snobs.
- The melee at the end of Sunday’s Flyers/Penguins game could be a sign of what’s to come (Philadelphia Inquirer). You can watch video of the mini brawl here. The only downside to a Flyers/Pens Battle of Pennsylvania in the playoffs is that it looks like it’s going to be a first round matchup. Either way, this has the makings of an instant classic.
- Are Flyers Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek poised to break out in the playoffs? (thehockeywriters.com). Speaking of Schenn, it was his cheap cross-check to the back of Sidney Crosby that started the aforementioned Flyers/Penguins melee, so he’ll have to hope that a Penguin doesn’t break him first if he wants a chance to break out.
- Speaking of cheap shots, check out this hit to the head from Dylan Olsen on Darroll Powe, after Powe had already released the puck (theScore.com).
- Five days in March ended the Flames’ playoff dreams (The Calgary Herald). I’d say assembling a roster of mediocre talent with no eye to the future might have done it, but hey, those five days in March were pretty devastating too.
- Despite missing the playoffs, the Winnipeg Jets are winners (SI.com). Agreed, and a good read. But let’s face it, that franchise became a winner the moment “Atlanta” became “Winnipeg” and “Thrashers” became “Jets.”
- Kyle Quincey went up with an elbow, will he come down with a Shanaban? (Puck Daddy)