This post is part of Senators Day on PHT…
The Ottawa Senators came within one win, one goal of making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
They beat the Boston Bruins in the opening round and then defeated Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers in the second round. Their advancement into the Eastern Conference Final may have been a surprise of the playoffs, but apparently not to owner Eugene Melnyk, who expressed in the middle of February his optimism that the Senators could go on a prolonged postseason run.
Still, it’s likely not many others saw this team pushing the Pittsburgh Penguins to double overtime of Game 7 with a berth in the Stanley Cup Final on the line.
The Senators scored the fewest goals of the 16 playoff teams and were the only one to own a negative goal differential (minus-4). Opponents fired 211 more shots on goal than Ottawa did at five-on-five and special teams were also below-grade with the Sens tied for the seventh-worst power play and ninth-worst penalty kill.
The Senators received a tremendous playoff performance from captain Erik Karlsson, despite the fact he was dealing with a foot injury that would later require surgery. Craig Anderson posted a .922 save percentage in 19 playoff games, and there were surprise heroes along the way like Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who had a four-goal game against the Rangers in Round Two.
That run, however, is long over now and attention turns to the upcoming campaign. Getting into the playoffs will depend on many factors, including those beyond their control, like the improvement of teams like Boston, Florida, Tampa Bay and Toronto in the Atlantic Division, and other teams in the Metropolitan Division if the Senators are involved in a Wild Card race.
“This team now is ready to win,” recently added forward Nate Thompson said last month. “I don’t think this was a Cinderella team, it was the real deal. They have a pretty good window to win games and hopefully do something even more special.”
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