So far this season, I’m not sure how many times I’ve posted an article that talks about the Ottawa Senators’ strengths, right after they win a character-building, battle-hardening match, but also right before they get blown out the following game – but it feels like a lot.
The story of the 2013-14 Sens has been a broken record (or an overplayed Kelly Clarkson tune that everyone is attributing to Daniel Alfredsson leaving town – take your pick); flashes of brilliance but no real substance.
With a battle-back 4-2 win against the streaky Panthers, the Sens have shown that they can persevere in games when they have been all but counted out.
Scoring 4 unanswered goals, Ottawa pushed hard for a W in sunny FLA and nabbed 2nd of the season goals from Corvo, Greening and Condra, and number 14 from Bobby Ryan. Anderson played well, recovering after giving up a few shaky, early snipes, and kept Ottawa in the game with some head-shaking saves.
But do they need that comeback pressure to win every time? Can they play with a lead and sustain it for an entire game?
We shall see.
TAMPA TORONTO TANDEM:
These next two games are crucial for the Sens. Not only can they climb out of their sub-500 status with wins against Tampa and Toronto, but they can edge closer to that golden goose of the final playoff spot in their Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
But if that’s the case, Ottawa can’t be a Jekyll and Hyde team anymore.
As Coach Paulrus has said many times this season, “Sooner or later, you are what you are.”
If Ottawa is going to live up to the expectations that have been placed upon them this year, they need to start sticking to their systems.
They need better play from every position – not just the goalies or the D-line.
It’s easy to forget that even though the Sens made the playoffs with a skeleton team last year, they had 2 big pieces of the puzzle that they don’t have now; Alfie and Gonchar.
Even though the Gonch is no spring chicken and not much of a physical presence, he helped with starting rushes, key defensive plays and getting the puck out of the Sens end. He was a game manager.
And Alfie was just Alfie – blasting clutch goals and backchecking boisterously at every opportunity.
But those two veteran presences are gone and pretty soon, the Sens will be what they will be. In the next few weeks, dreams will begin to fall by the wayside and the harsh reality of the standings will set in.
Let’s hope that the Red-And-Black-Heart-Attack’s ability to battle back and win big games is indicative of their overall season.