MONTREAL,QUEBEC — Watching the Ottawa Senators roll past a beat up and depleted Montreal Canadiens team in five games was an upset when going by the seeding, but their rise to success this year was built in part by what this team learned last year.
The Sens nearly pulled off a stunning upset last season as the eighth seed against the East’s No. 1 team, the New York Rangers. They pushed them to seven games before ultimately coming up short in the final game. The lessons learned from that loss stuck with this year’s team.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have come up the last few years and it’s a great experience,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “I think we learned what it takes in the playoffs. It’s physical, it’s mentally tough, and it’s a grind. I think we were definitely ready for that. I thought we did a good job last year too but it seems that this year we’re a little bit better as a team and that helps.”
The Sens weren’t pushed to the brink in this series, but as goalie Craig Anderson says, last year’s loss helped them figure out what’s needed to get done.
“You grow every time you get knocked down you get back up and you learn from it,” he said. “It was huge for us to learn from our mistakes.”
Defenseman Erik Karlsson summed it up a little more directly.
“We know how much it sucks to lose certain games and it feels good to be on the other side,” he said.
The Sens now wait to see how the rest of the Eastern Conference plays out and a date in the second round with the Pittsburgh Penguins looms large. If they thought a series with a rival like the Canadiens was heated, they haven’t seen anything yet.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.
The New York Rangers got a big divisional win on Saturday afternoon, but it came at a price.
Captain Ryan McDonagh was knocked out of the game after he took a sucker-punch from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
McDonagh wasn’t innocent here. He delivered a cross-check to Simmonds’ head moments before the punch.
To watch the entire sequence, click here.
Getting back to the game…
With the Flyers leading 2-1 in the dying moments of the game, defenseman Keith Yandle beat Steve Mason to force overtime.
Philadelphia’s struggles continued in the shootout.
They missed on both their attempts (Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux) while the Rangers converted on both their attempts (Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan).
After the game, both sides addressed the Simmonds/McDonagh incident.
It’ll be interesting to see how the NHL’s Department of Player Safety handles this situation. Both McDonagh and Simmonds are at fault here, but Simmonds’ action caused an injury.
The shootout loss puts an end to Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak. The Flyers are three points behind the Red Wings for the final Wild Card spot in the East.
The 2015-16 Washington Capitals always seem to find a way to get the job done.
That’s exactly what they did in Saturday’s matinee against the New Jersey Devils.
The Capitals opened the scoring when Andrei Burakovsky beat Cory Schneider in the second period, but the Devils answered with back-to-back goals by Joseph Blandisi and Adam Henrique.
Washington got the game-tying goal from an unlikely source as Paul Carey scored his first career goal with under six minutes remaining in regulation.
In overtime, Ovechkin dished out this huge hit:
And in typical Ovechkin fashion, he finished the game off in the shootout (top of the page).
The Caps have now won back-to-back games and they remain 15 points ahead of the Rangers, who beat Philadelphia 3-2 in a shootout this afternoon, with two games in hand.
For the Devils, the loser point allows them to move ahead of the Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan division, but New York still has four games in hand.
Here’s an updated look at the division standings:
Some rough stuff in Saturday’s matinee between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers.
Wayne Simmonds was thrown out of the game after he punched Ryan McDonagh.
As you can see from the video at the top of the page, McDonagh nails Simmonds with a cross-check to the head before the Flyers forward went after him.
McDonagh left the game with a possible concussion.
Here’s how the referees handed out the penalties:
Simmonds received a five-minute major and was tossed from the game while McDonagh received two separate two-minute penalties.
The Rangers were unable to score on the ensuing power play, and that’s when more weird stuff happened.
Here’s how the New York Daily News described the moments after the penalty expired:
The Rangers were already upset with Simmonds’ sucker punch, but then Alain Vigneault lost his mind all over again at the end of the Rangers’ unsuccessful power play: The Flyers had forgotten to put a player in the penalty box, with Simmonds having been sent off.
Illegally, during the flow of play, forward Jake Voracek just jumped off Philly’s bench as the power play expired and was sprung on a breakaway. Lundqvist made the save but the Rangers were flabbergasted at the officials’ lack of control or apparent knowledge of the rule book, which would require the Flyers in that situation to wait until a whistle to put their fifth man back on the ice.
By the way, the referees for this game are Dave Lewis and Kelly Sutherland.