Thanks to my opportunistic father, whose faith in the Ottawa Senators truly springs eternal, I was in a packed Scotiabank Place for Saturday night's game.
Of course, we came away disappointed, but while the Penguins were jumping all over each other like a bunch of... silly penguins... I was clapping for the Senators, and I meant it. Lead by their injury-riddled captain, the Sens to raised their sticks to the crowd in a classy sign of appreciation that is rarely seen in professional sports.
There was something about this season that seemed so meddling, and at the same time, so transitory. The team is on its way to a new structure and spirit, and this was just the season in which the larva was still building its cocoon. Is the team tougher now than it was in 2001? Hells yes. Is it a better team? Ummm.... no.
Did we learn anything from this series? Well, it only takes one game for many Ottawa Senators fans to jump off, then back on, the bandwagon, that's for sure - myself included. After the Penguins beat up the Sens in that seven-goal period two of game four, I didn't give the Sens a chance. They were cooked.
But then, like a chicken finger that you leave in the fridge for too long, the Senators uncooked themselves with much stronger efforts in games five and six. And that earned them only one thing: respect. This post would be much different had the Sens gone quietly into the night after game five, but they didn't. So they get a little respect.
I do wish the Sens' coaching staff had more faith in Pascal Leclaire, but I can understand Cory Clouston's predicament. If not for that astonishing winning streak in the middle of the season, the Sens would have been fighting for the eighth spot rather than sitting quietly in fifth. Undoubtedly, the Senators needed Brian Elliott to get them into the playoffs. Hard to fault Clouston for that.
It feels good to put some hockey thoughts on the net after a long absence. Recent events have re-sparked my passion, and I hope to share more thoughts with you during the summer.
Cheers, Sens fans. You can't keep a good town down.