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
Your guess is as good as mine.
The question being, what can you expect to occur in Game 6 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden?
Did we all expect Ottawa to come out and snatch away Game 5 in such dramatic fashion on Saturday afternoon?
Tuning in to hear the chatter on radio the previous couple of days suggested the Ottawa Senators were about to follow Ned Stark's lead (or Robb Stark, or Catelyn Stark . . . but you get the gist): Death was but moments away (sorry about the spoilers).
After all, Ottawa was a beaten-down and beaten-up club heading back home after back-to-back smackdowns in New York.
But hasn't that been the story of this Eastern Conference semi-final? Consistently inconsistent; predictably unpredictable.
Most of the pundits were quick to assess this series – prior to the initial drop of the puck – as being in a New York state of mind. Yes Ottawa was full marks for taking down Boston in its opening set, but this was New York, you know, one of the beasts residing in the uber-powerful Metropolitan Division. The division that also houses Pittsburgh and Washington and Columbus?
So off to the first two games we go, and it's Ottawa grabbing a tight stranglehold on its 'favoured' opponent. So, then, off we go to New York, and with the coronation of the Senators waiting in the wings, it's the Rangers holding court in decisive fashion.
While impossible to nail down crystal-ball-wise, what this series has provided is some pretty wild entertainment.
Folks bicker that the NHL has become soccer – with goals coming at a premium. But in this set-to, offence has been bountiful. In the five games, the total goal count is 33. Not quite early-1980s numbers, but hefty ones in the shut-down, kitty-bar-the-door style of today.
Both goalies have been average at best. Henrik Lundqvist has had his moments; some terrific and some horrific. Craig Anderson might have much superior numbers if he'd just stop trying to play the puck outside his crease.
Meantime, both the Rangers' and Senators' defensive games – in front of said netminders – has generally been spotty and disorganized.
What's it all add up to?
While rich in mistakes and missed assignments, this series has been nothing but a whole heckuva lot of fun.
So if you're prone to gazing into the crystal ball and looking ahead to Tuesday night in New York and attempting to get a glimpse of what to expect . . . go for it.
The prophesy likely won't come true.
But there's one guarantee – Game 6 will be an entertaining one.
NOTES AND NOTIONS: I was neither here nor there on this whole "Dress Chris Neil" debate that raged on between Games 4 and 5. I am sure Neil makes the Senators skill-set a little more comfortable (and they'd tell you as much), but to suggest the Rangers were quivering with his addition is asinine. Hockey has changed. Speed is the intimidator these days . . . Back in the day – when this type of intimidation factor actually played a more significant role and the Broad Street Bullies were running roughshod – it was said that a number of opposition players would catch a nasty virus the day the Flyers came to town. The affliction? The "Philly Flu" . . . Extremely happy for the Nashville Predators who booked their ticket to the western final Sunday afternoon. You won't find a classier guy than team president David Poile, who's been with the organization since the start. Also broadcaster Pete Weber should be mentioned in the same breath. I remember writing stories on the "imminent collapse" of this franchise during my Postmedia days (about 10 years ago). Somehow, some way, Nashville hung onto the team thanks to a huge community effort . . . As hard to predict as Tuesday's quest between Ottawa and New York is Game 7 with Anaheim hosting Edmonton on Wednesday. Would enjoy seeing Edmonton through but also have some heat for the Ducks and guys like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf – both drafted back in that sensational 2003 draft by Ottawa's Bryan Murray. Good story: When Bryan was coaching the Senators against Anaheim in the 2007 Cup finale, Murray was livid with Perry for playing his usual chippy game. Perry, while on ice, turned to Bryan behind the bench and basically lobbed back – "What did you expect, you're the guy who drafted me (you know how I play)!"
WEEK THAT WAS:
Thursday: NY Rangers 4, Ottawa 1
Saturday: Ottawa 5, NY Rangers 4 (OT)
Tuesday: Ottawa at NY Rangers
Thursday: NY Rangers at Ottawa (if necessary)