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Hats off to the Senators; heartbreak for the Predators and playoff notes

I’ve never been an Ottawa fan (probably goes back to Russ Jackson, the wonderful CFL quarterback who used to beat my Argos in the ‘60s). And yes, it may also have to do with all those playoff series against the Leafs a few years back.

That said, how can you not admire the Sens’ effort in very nearly extending their series with the Stanley Cup champions to seven games?

Here’s a team that switched goaltenders in mid-stream—despite Elliot having one heck of a season when he wasn’t even expected to be the number one guy. They’ve been missing key pieces due to injury yet they won Game 5 on the road and came painfully close to making this a seven-game series.

I’ve never been an Alfredsson guy either, but you know, there comes a time when you have to acknowledge the contribution that a guy has made to a rival organization. He’s taken a lot of knocks from Toronto fans over the years, but he has been a trooper and a consistently fine player for that franchise. He’s quality. I have to believe he played a huge role in keeping the squad together when they switched coaches (again) last season, and also when the whole Heatley mess was ongoing—and finally—resolved last summer.

Kudos to Alfie, and hats off to the Senators for a gutsy display. I have a lot of regard for teams who over-achieve, and to me, Ottawa did just that this season.

If some of the Ottawa teams of yesteryear had the character that this group showed, they may well have earned some Cups when their cupboard was overflowing with talent.


I feel so badly for the Predators. They were within seconds of a major upset on the road I game 5. A tough bounce led to a short-handed goal in the dying seconds, and they miss the opportunity to go home for Game 6 with a lead in the series.

Here is a model franchise, in many ways, with a small but dedicated fan base. GM David Poile has been a molding and massaging this team for years. They are now a solid playoff team, with Poile assiduously adding and moving pieces despite ownership uncertainty and financial limitations. And the Preds are doing this in the much tougher Western conference.

They have had the same coach since their first day in the league, and Barry Trotz deserves so much credit for his work over the years. I’m trying to think of a time when the team had a full-fledged superstar (Forsberg for a very short time, I realize), but they have built around solid goaltending and a marvelous young defense.

They are the classic hard-working team. I’d like to see them get some breaks, but they may have missed their chance last night, unfortunately.

I’m looking forward to Game 6 in the Montreal -Washington series. On paper, Washington should be resting up for the next series by now. But Montreal showed something in Game five, and who knows? I still think Washington will come out hard and take Game six, but Montreal has made it a series.  I'm thinking Theodore gets his chance to face his old club in Montreal Monday night.

Credit to Halak. Montreal has two good young goalies and he showed a lot after losing the net earlier in the series. I know fans get impatient, but these guys are still very young goalies—who wouldn’t want Price and Halak? It’s a nice dilemma for Pierre Gauthier to have going forward.


Does Phoenix have enough left to take it to a seventh game against Detroit? Colorado finally ran out of gas, but who would have predicted that the Avs and the Coyotes have been as good as they have been this season?

It will be interesting to see if both franchises have really turned the corner, or if they slip back to the non-playoff pack next season.

The Kings fall into that "surprise-team" category, to. The Canucks seem to be on a roll now, but the Kings have a solid young core going forward. Like Nashville, the Kings have been meticulously rebuilt by Dean Lombardi and may just be a power in years to come.
Toronto Maple Leaf hockey blog

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