Think's start to get very rough from here, folks. If you can't stand terrible, awful, memories, I'd suggest turning back. Going forward only brings psychological pain.
Part one is here.
#3. Sidney Crosby
There are certain elements on the internet (and on this website) who proclaim Sidney Crosby is "whiny," "weak," or some other petulant adjective. Some will be oh so clever and call him "Cindy." Get it? Because he’s just like a girl the way he dominates the play when he’s on the ice! I think it’s jealously: Crosby’s been the best skater since the lock-out, and has excelled in all situations. Anybody would want him on their team, given his prolific scoring and his strong two-way play. Unfortunately for Ottawa, the Senators have met him and the Penguins three times during a span of four years, losing two out of three series. Out of all the teams in the league, Crosby’s probably done more damage to the Senators than any other.
His performance against Ottawa in the regular season hasn’t been all that special: 20 points in 21 games. That’s great for 95% of the league, but it isn’t quite up to the torrid pace he’s maintained over his short career. No, it’s been when it matters most that he’s really burned the Senators, starting with the 2007 quarter-finals. In his first taste of playoff action, Crosby acquitted himself well enough: 3 goals and 2 assists is no shabby contribution in a 5 game series. He contributed about as much as one would expect of the Hart Trophy winner; the series defeat had little to do with him, and a lot more to do with Marc-André Fleury’s porosity. Regardless of the seeding, Ottawa was very much the superior team, and just as good as the conference-leading Sabres. Unfortunately for Ottawa, it was also the last time Crosby would be anything short of god-like against them in the playoffs.
Facing off against the Senators again in 2008, Crosby was less merciful: scoring 8 points in the sweep, which might’ve been even worse if not for Martin Gerber’s excellent (seriously) play. The Penguins absolutely dominated the series from end-to-end, led by Crosby. Helping was a much improved Fleury, who only allowed 5 goals over the course of the series, compared to the 16 the Penguins potted. Crosby, of course, provided the dagger: intercepting a pass with 10 seconds to go in game 4 and icing the series with an empty-netter.
The bad news: Crosby was only just warming up. In the 2010 quarter-finals against Ottawa, Crosby was unrelenting in his play. He simply controlled the series. He was so strong on the puck, so masterful in his on-ice vision, that the best attempts by the Sens’ excellent shut-down pair of Phillips and Volchenkov did nothing to contain him. He made highlight-reel plays all series, including turning Spezza into a fool, scoring goals while falling to the ice, and even making great saves when his goaltender failed. 5 goals and 9 assists in a mere 6 games; he was a Sens Killer every time he stepped on the ice.
The ludicrous thing about all of this is not just that he’s produced at 2.0 PPG or more for two full series against Ottawa; that almost seems par for the course. It was that in addition to being a game-breaker offensively, he was excellent defensively. Over the course of the 2008 and 2010 series, he was on the ice for three goals against. Three. Besides occasionally bailing out his goalie and dominating puck possession, he maintained excellent coverage in his own zone and back-checked as hard as he could. It’s hard to comprehend why someone would call Crosby weak or prissy, given how hard he works on the ice. He’s about as far from a floater as one can get.
As much as I hope Crosby’s days as a Sens Killer are over, I hope it’s the excellent play of Anderson or Lehner or the shutdown ability of Cowen that’s the reason. It’s good to have dynamic superstars like him in the game, and it would be a shame if his troubles with concussions prevent him from getting back to where he was before his injuries.
Regular season: 21 GP, 4 G, 16 A
Playoffs: 15 GP, 11 G, 15 A
#2. Curtis Joseph
Ugh, let’s get this out of the way. There are some particularly brutal memories associated with this one. Sens Killers typically come in two flavours, given the structure of the NHL’s season and playoffs: ones that rule the Senators in the regular season, or ones that rule them in the playoffs. Joseph is definitely in the latter category. In fact, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a player who’s done more damage to the Senators in the post-season than Joseph.
That’s not to say that his regular season performance against the Senators was lacking. On the contrary: a 0.911 save percentage over the years is good; however, he spent many of his prime years in the Western Conference, away from regular meetings with the Senators. It wasn’t until he came to the Maple Leafs in 1998 that he started facing off against the Sens numerous times a season, including three consecutive playoff series from 2000 to 2002.
Sens fans know that this is the cue to bury their head in their hands and cry.
Particularly heartbreaking was the 2001 playoffs. The Senators had handily won their division, and were probably the third best team in the league after the heavyweights of New Jersey and Colorado. They were facing off against a struggling Leafs team that was clearly inferior. And the third highest scoring team in the league... were shutout at home. Ottawa didn’t score a single goal at the Corel Centre that playoffs, thanks to ol’ CuJo. It was frustrating. It was infuriating. It might be the single best performance in a playoff series the Senators have ever faced. It took until the 57th minute of game number three before anyone could score on him, and it required a brilliant move by Hossa to do so. The Sens poured 73 shots on Joseph in those first two games, and he gave nothing up.
While his play in 2001 was the obvious highlight (he had a 0.976 save percentage during that series) for Joseph, he nevertheless was excellent in the other two series Ottawa faced him in. He shut out the Senators again in the decisive game 7 in 2002, spoiling Patrick Lalime’s brilliant (yes, brilliant) run. He also stymied the Sens in closing out the 2000 series, stopping 75 of the 78 shots he faced in the final two games. All in all, he was the most valuable player for the Leafs in their depressing three consecutive series wins against Ottawa, posting a 0.940 save percentage across the 17 games. It was extremely frustrating to be a fan during that era, as there wasn’t any particularly thing to blame Ottawa’s lack of success upon: they were just being confounded time and again by a goalie at his best. Ottawa fans shed no tears when CuJo went searching for a Cup with Detroit in 2002; they were just glad he couldn’t haunt them anymore.
Regular season: 31 GP, 0.911 Sv%
Playoffs: 17 GP, 0.940 Sv%,