Welcome Back to the Playoffs!
SENATORS: A Week in Review is a weekly column looking back at the week in Ottawa Senators hockey written by OLMSports Dave Gross.
Feature photo Courtesy Andre Ringuette NHLI via Getty Images
Take a spin right across this big country of ours and what will you encounter?
Exceedingly high blood pressure accompanied by sweaty palms and jittery hands.
Welcome to the playoffs Canada. Glad to have you back.
After all, it was just a year ago when Canadian hockey folk were getting the garden in order extra early, thinking about slapping on the summer tires or wondering if it was too early to start seriously root-root-rooting for the Blue Jays.
After all (Part II), from Vancouver to Montreal, all seven of the National Hockey League’s Canadian clubs weren’t partaking in the post-season dance.
Of course the die-hard hockey fans were still glued to their wide-screens, but the magic and intensity and anxiety were – for the most part – missing in action.
This year? It’s Expedition Everest all over again. Especially here in Ontario.
Through the roller-coaster-esque first six games (combining the Ottawa-Boston and Toronto-Washington set-to’s), five have gone into overtime.
The only one of the six that didn’t was Game 1 of the Sens and Bruins where Boston ‘coasted’ to a 2-1 win. No nail-biting there, right?
I pity the poor guy or gal who has to rise extra early for work. There have been some late nights involving the Ontario teams, and even though most of the five overtimes ended relatively quickly, it’s not like you can get serene and sleepy seconds after the deciding goal in extra time.
(Generally I’ll phone a couple of friends afterwards and exclaim: “Did you see that!?” Knowing full well they had. Or they’ll phone me and exclaim: “Did you see that!?” Knowing full well I had. Geniuses, I tell you. Geniuses.)
Like we opined in this space last week, the opening round of the playoffs is always the most entertaining. Physical, fractious and flashy, Round 1 never disappoints.
Not sure how either the Toronto or Ottawa series can possibly ratchet up the intensity and give the Ontario fans more of a rush. At this point, it seems improbable and impossible.
Although there’s always this: What if in the not-too-distant future – like maybe the next round – Toronto and Ottawa go head-to-head?
Sleepless in Seattle? More like Sleepless in Ontario.
NOTES AND NOTIONS: That Erik Karlsson saucer dish to Mike Hoffman Monday in Boston is the play-of-the-year. Hands down. I mean, that’s in Eli-Manning-to-David-Tyree territory . . . “It’s become a young man’s game.” Heard that more than a few times this season, and I can’t disagree. I would add the appendage: “It’s become a young man’s game . . . with SPEED.” From Connor McDavid to Zach Werenski to Patrick Laine to Nylander-Matthews-Marner – these guys can zip . . . If the playoffs had a label right about now, it should read – Zack Kassian’s coming-out-party. Credit the big Oiler winger for getting his game in tune (and then some) both on and off the ice . . . The lads over on TSN 1200 this past weekend were discussing what the biggest early surprise of the playoffs has been. I’d go with St. Louis rushing out to a 3-0 series lead over Minnesota. And boy has the tandem of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester ever been superb. It’s the best D-duo going right now in the entire league, by a mile . . . Chicago being down to Nashville 3-zip is pretty astounding as well . . . Toronto’s Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner were on the ice for more than 80 minutes in Saturday’s overtime win in Washington . . . With the Leafs and Raptors both in playoff mode, I guess it’s as good a time as any for the Blue Jays to tank and effectively fly under the Toronto media’s steely gaze. Watching the Jays this season is painful. This is a team that seemingly has no heart or drive. Adding injury to insult: The losses of Aaron Sanchez, Josh Donaldson and JA Happ to injury. Ugh.
WEEK THAT WAS:
Wednesday; Boston 2, Ottawa 1
Saturday: Ottawa 4, Boston 3 (OT)
Monday: Ottawa 4, Boston 3 (OT)
Wednesday: Ottawa at Boston (7:30 pm)
Friday: Boston at Ottawa (7:30 pm)
Sunday (if necessary): Ottawa at Boston (Time TBD)