• By: Dave Gross

Wake up NHL, Senators are chumps no more 

“Without labour, nothing prospers.”

“Hard work betrays none.”

“Much effort, much prosperity.”

Pretty heady stuff, eh?

I’m fairly certain the authors of these famously weighty quotes weren’t pondering the game of hockey when they wrote them up but that won’t stop this corner from applying, forthwith.

Pretty heady stuff, eh (Part II)?

But I digress. Let’s get to the point.

So here’s the deal – the Ottawa Senators are doing a fine job lately working hard, and for the first time in seemingly eons, working smart and working with purpose. It’s not enough to pour your sweat onto the ice, there needs to be a direction in which to pour it, if you smell what The Rock is cookin’ here.

That consistent toil is garnering results, like Sunday’s win in Columbus and Saturday’s near-miss in Washington. It’s telling us a lot about the Senators and their future: It will be bright if the team stays the course. The evidence is right in front of us, night by night.

But here’s what I don’t understand – If I see Ottawa as a threat right now, what’s with the rest of the hockey circuit?

Take for example the game against the Capitals. The home side looked almost dismissive from the get-go, like the Caps were the Harlem Globetrotters and the Sens the Washington Generals. It’s hard to imagine a less-prepared, less-enthusiastic club taking to the ice.

Roll over and play dead there Ottawa. You’re the patsy and we’re the Cup contender. While Washington wasn’t exactly saying it, they sure played like it through the first 20 minutes.

That game was a microcosm of the season. Teams seem to be – still – unaware that Ottawa has improved brick-by-brick and is now dangerous.

It’s almost, umm, arrogance.

Further evidence?

On how many occasions has Ottawa taken to the ice only to see the opposition dress its back-up netminder? If that isn’t sand kicked in your face, I’m out to lunch. A very long lunch.

Well, as they say in certain circles, live and let live. “It’s your choice not to take us seriously and that’s your business . . . and by the way, thanks for the two points,” the Senators might be saying quite a bit through the final chapters of this season.

Ottawa won’t be making the post-season again this year, but they’ll have a large say in who will and will not down the stretch. Time to take an improving team seriously and scratch it off your chump list.

THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Should make for a terrific measuring stick Thursday when Carolina visits Ottawa. The ‘Canes have situated themselves as a team-to-beat in the Eastern Conference. Maybe the team-to-beat . . . Franchise foibles; Florida and Carolina as hockey superpowers, vaunted Montreal as a doormat. Some things just don’t seem right . . . Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau has thrust himself into the Hart Trophy discussion. Huberdeau is tied for the league lead in points with 58 . . . Wonder what kind of shape the Oilers organization will be in next Monday when Connor McDavid and the highly quotable Leon Draisaitl come to town . . . The more I watch the Pittsburgh Penguins with a relatively thin roster (outside of the obvious) the more I think Mike Sullivan for coach of the year . . . Nasty in Nashville: Former Smiths Falls Bear Mark Borowiecki still has it. ‘Boro’ leads the circuit in penalty minutes with 88 . . . If you’re a fan of this stuff (I am), you won’t see a better scrap this year than Kurtis MacDermid/Nicolas Deslauriers from this past week . . . I am about 8-million-years-old, and I can not remember a better set of playoff weekends in the NFL than the ones we’ve enjoyed so far this year. I mean: Classic games, classic, heart-stopping endings . . . It’s been ‘can’t-tear-me-away-from-TV’ viewing . . . I haven’t been that dead-on focused since watching Tiger’s final round at The Masters in the spring of 2019 . . . You’d be hard-pressed to rank these face-offs as far as pure excitement, but I’d put Buffalo-KC at or near the top . . . After watching him play this season I wish Josh Allen were playing for another team in New York. Hint: not the Jets. Sigh.


Tuesday, Jan. 25: Buffalo at Ottawa (7 pm)

Thursday, Jan. 27: Carolina at Ottawa (7 pm)

Saturday, Jan. 29: Anaheim at Ottawa (12:30 pm)