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.