Six games ago, the Ottawa Senators were a 1-5 hockey team. Loss No. 5 was a 7-2 blowout to the Philadelphia Flyers, a defeat so bad the players called an emergency meeting afterward. The Senators were allowing an average of five goals per game and considered to be one of the worst teams in hockey.
But that was six games ago.
Tonight, the Senators won their sixth consecutive game — a 3-2 decision over Toronto — in the Battle of Ontario. What’s more, they did it without the services of their captain (Daniel Alfredsson, out with an upper-body injury) and their third-string goalie (Robin Lehner) in net. The winning goal was scored by Kaspars Daugavins, a 23-year-old Latvian with four games of big league experience. If was his first NHL goal.
To quote legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi: What the hell’s going on out here?
At the time of writing, the Senators are the hottest team in hockey (we’ll see what happens tomorrow when the San Jose Sharks take their five-game winning streak to MSG.) They’ve got the NHL’s best power play. They’re one point out of the Northeast divison lead and an improbable eight points up on Boston, the defending Stanley Cup champion. Jason Spezza is one of the league’s top scorers and Erik Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen in points.
Guess that’s what a six-game winning streak will do for you.
Of course, this winning streak has to be kept in perspective. Ottawa’s competition hasn’t exactly been lethal — the streak includes victories over Columbus, Winnipeg, Carolina, Florida and New York — which is probably why head coach Paul MacLean is trying to keep things in perspective. “Let’s see where we are after 20 games, after 25 games,” he told the Globe and Mail today. “It’s a long season.”
But hey, doesn’t mean people can’t get a little excited at the possibility of the Sens being, you know, good at the hockey. Even Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen got caught up in the thrill of it all. “The Boys of October roll into a new month carting a six-gamer against the Stanley Cup champions in Boston on Tuesday,” he wrote. “Who knew a rebuild could be this much fun?”