You guys know me. You know how wound up I get over my Sens.
So you probably all know how I'm feeling today - absolutely on edge, butterflies in my stomach, biting my nails, just ready for it all to begin!
That's right, folks: It's playoff time again. Which means for as long as the Senators are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I'm at risk of having a heart attack.
Yep, it's that serious.
Starting tonight, we will be facing a familiar foe in Round 1 - the young & talented Pittsburgh Penguins. Last year, we handled them easily out of the gate, taking the series 4-1. Throughout this season, we've had a decent record against them, beating them 3 out of 4 contests. One would think we should be the favourites based on those facts, right?
They are the #2 seed. We ended up barely clinging on to #7.
(Ya shoulda seen that last week, going into Thursday night's game against the Leafs - I was an absolute nervous wreck - as bad as I am at playoff time, if not worse. The possibility of not even making the playoffs was so huge, it was suffocating me! Thankfully, we ended up winning that game against T.O. 8-2, and I was able to breathe a giant sigh of relief).
Last year, the Pens were a young, inexperienced squad, many of whom were playing in their first playoffs. The Sens, as a whole, were playoff vets with tons of past failures to ignite them, not only past Pittsburgh, but also New Jersey and Buffalo. Only the Ducks of Anaheim were able to push us back from the final goal of winning Lord Stanley's Cup.
Doesn't really look like we'll come nearly that close this year. The Pens are strong - they've learned from last year, and this year, they are that much more mature. They played hard down the stretch, while the Sens seemed to fall apart at the seams. Our goaltending situation never seemed to get straightened out, even after Bryan Murray gave Marty Gerber the ball and let him run with it. Our defence has been horrible. Even goal-scoring, our forté, hasn't been happening all that much recently.
Oh. I almost forgot. In that game against the Leafs, we lost both our captain, Daniel Alfredsson, and our gritty, full-of-heart assistant, Mike Fisher. Tonight, they'll join Chris Kelly on the sidelines, and depending on how long this series goes, we may never see them back in the line-up again this year.
OK. So there. I've got all my pessimistic negitivity out. Nobody thinks the Sens can win this series - absolutely no one. But I do!! If I had my choice of all the teams I could play in the first round, I probably would've picked Pittsburgh. I truly believe we can beat them!
We might be without Alfie, Fisher and Kelly, but we've still got Spezza and Heatley and Vermette - big offensive talent there. We brought in three former Cup winners in Cory Stillman, Mike Commodore, and Martin Lapointe - this is where their expertise is supposed to come in handy. And last year, the lauded shut-down defensive pairing of the Eastern Conference was made up of Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov. Guess what? They both still wear Sens uniforms.
This team is entirely capable of winning, if they can get it together the way we saw them play in the first two months of the season. This is a chance for a fresh start; a clean slate. If they can pull together and get some momentum going, I believe they can do anything.
GO SENS GO!!