Wow; who would have thunk? The 8th place Sens take the 1st place Rangers to the 7th game. A rookie coach matches wits with a Cup coach & his Conn Smyth player. A Sens team lacking depth with only 2 twenty goal scorers playing regularly. No defensive duo like Suter & the hulking Weber. No goaltender like Quick, Smith...wait - we have Andy. No Messier/Trottier type leader like Claude Giroux who, in 32 seconds in the deciding game, smashes Crosby to the ice & scores, on his way to six goals in the series.
Leadership. The leadership came from the coach & his staff. Paul MacLean has established an up tempo structure & a resilient work ethic. A coach who wants to win badly in the short term but who has a long term vision of a dynasty built on focused, complete players who compete intensely in a 200 foot game. Team positional play, defence and PK were very good. The players willingness to sacrifice to play a grind game made the difference versus a big, talented team. The Bingo rookies played well and the scorers, led by Spezza, scored almost enough goals.
Innovation. This coach has guts. Never in the NHL has a coach inserted 2 prospects with no experience into the playoff line up. Dynasty coaches (Bowman, Arbour, Sather) would sit rookies out for the playoffs.
Accountability. Ottawa - you wanted accountability? Is there any doubt who is in charge? Who can forget MacLean castigating, cajoling & coddling Spezza on the bench? Or, stapling Spezza, Alfie & Michalek to the bench for almost 4 minutes, including a power play, in the 3rd period of an elimination game, in favour of players more willing to compete.
What to do about:
1. Andy: great series, scary intensity; c'mon over for a BBQ (meat supplied).
2. Defence: a priority; Philips - good work, you earn a reprieve; do we rely on Gonchar & Kuba or acquire; which prospects ( Borocop, Gryba) are ready; Cowen...take summer power skating lessons.
3. Personnel: Brian, listen to Paul, just as you did when you gave up a prized prospect for Turris.
4. PK: good work & thanks Condra & Konopka, but roster spots will be hard to find; who can be groomed to help Smith & O'Brien?
5. Neil: good goals & hits, scary intensity; take the summer off..lounge around the pool, get a massage; who can be groomed?
6. Spezza/Foligno: 4 goals were key; lacking intensity; still projects/liabilities due to fundamentals; volunteer at kid's camp where they teach - "give-aways" bad, "take-aways" good; shoot in slot; don't over carry puck, use short passes; no repetitive, stupid, momentum sucking penalties.
7. Alfie: 2 great goals; one bad episode of "concussion rage" a la Sid; get well; you don't deserve to go out like this; don't retire, return part time as playing captain & assistant coach, mentoring the rookies.
8. Smith & Greening: good series; visualize 20 goal seasons to add to the grind game.
9. Goals: which skilled prospects (Z-bad, Silverstar, Stoner) are ready to score more goals & how can the grind factor be maintained on balanced lines?
10. Karlsson & Turris: difference makers, but at times you looked fatigued; enjoy your summer, go for strength & conditioning' and visualize 20 goal plus seasons.
Thanks Sens for an exciting & interesting season.
See ya...at prospects' camp.