Senators are Canada’s last hope in NHL playoffs
The Ottawa Senators, the last Canadian team left in the NHL
playoffs, are welcoming all aboard the bandwagon.
”Lots of room. We’ve got a big one,” forward Jason Spezza said
Monday before facing the Rangers in Game 6.
The Senators haven’t found themselves in this position since
2007, when they advanced to the Stanley Cup final and were beaten
by Anaheim in five games.
Few would have guessed they’d be in this spot. But a
surprisingly good run coupled with Vancouver’s shocking first-round
exit Sunday night left the spotlight shining solely on the
Senators. The other five Canadian teams missed the playoffs.
”When you set your goals you don’t say ‘We want to be the last
Canadian team around,”’ Spezza said. ”You just want to be the
last team standing period. That’s all we want to do, is focus on
winning our series and keep moving on.”
The Senators entered Monday night’s Game 6 with a chance to
complete an upset of the Rangers, the top team in the Eastern
Conference. In the West, the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings pulled
off the same feat against Vancouver.
Ottawa has received strong goaltending in the postseason from
”I think he gives his teammates confidence to play and gives
them the ability to go on the ice and just be able to play,” coach
Paul MacLean said.
And important contributions are coming from unexpected sources.
Mark Stone, a 19-year-old forward, had an assist in his first NHL
game Saturday after joining the team from the Western Hockey
It will likely be tough for some fans across the country to
embrace the Senators, particularly those partial to the Montreal
Canadiens or Toronto Maple Leafs.
But forward Kyle Turris, who grew up in British Columbia, and
joined Ottawa in a December trade from Phoenix, thinks people
paying attention to the team for the first time will find a lot to
”We’ve never given up and we’ve really come together as a team
chemistrywise,” Turris said. ”I think it shows on the ice.”
Those looking for other options might consider turning to
Florida, which has used 15 Canadian players in these playoffs, the
most of any team still alive. Boston has employed 14 and St. Louis
13. Eleven have played for Ottawa.
Either way, the Senators are now tasked with trying to end the
country’s Stanley Cup drought. The Canadiens were the last team
from Canada to lift the trophy. That was in 1993 when they were
still playing at the Forum.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year in the nation’s
capital, but something special has taken hold. Captain Daniel
Alfredsson never thought his team would be the last Canadian team
playing meaningful hockey. Quite frankly, he wasn’t even sure the
Senators would make the postseason.
”It’s not something you think about or want to do,” he said.
”We just want to focus on what we’re going to do. We wanted to put
ourselves in a position to be in the playoffs, first and foremost,
and then compete hard in the playoffs. We’re doing that and we want
to keep going.”
But there’s no denying the achievement.
”It’s obviously something to be proud of,” Spezza said.
”We’re still playing.”