The Ottawa Senators have been an odd franchise for the past decade, as they have lots of variance from season to season, so a calendar year could include many more ups and downs than the typical team.
2017 was no different, as they went from a sure-fire playoff team, to a team that might miss, to a Stanley Cup contender, to a solid bet to make it, and finally to a bottom feeder currently. The run they made in the spring was something none of us will ever forget.
With 2017 coming to a close, I thought it would be fun to look at the best moments from the year. It’s not surprising that 8/10 moments are from the playoffs, as there were simply too many that I felt obliged to put in, and we’ll probably never see that many entertaining overtime games and comebacks like that again.
This post is pretty much re-living the 2017 playoffs, but who’s complaining about that?
Here are the best moments:
10: Bloodbath in Alberta
This was the highpoint of the 2017-18 season so far, as it was so strange to see Ottawa beat Calgary and Edmonton by a combined score of 12-1 on back-to-back nights back in October. The Senators just don’t win big very often, and getting to see two blowouts like that was a lot of fun.
Plus, for those of us on Twitter, we got “Smug Doug” out of that Flames game.
Sens also proud to announce their new mascot tonight, Smug Doug pic.twitter.com/TMAGQXXzgM— Varada (@thisthreetime) October 14, 2017
Smug Doug says "Not sure if you saw, but we just scored five." pic.twitter.com/ala4HcABTN— Varada (@thisthreetime) October 14, 2017
9. Craig Anderson wins the Masterton Trophy
Anderson’s emotional shutout victory against the Edmonton Oilers after returning to the team was incredible, although that was in 2016. He did win the Masterton Trophy last season in June though due to his wife Nicholle’s battle with breast cancer, so we can include this for 2017.
Anderson used his wife’s illness as a motivator last season, and each time he came back to the team, it looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Craig and Nicholle were an inspiration for us all last season, and it was special getting to watch their story.
8: Kyle Turris seals off 5-4 OT comeback win
Ottawa had taken a 2-0 lead in the round 2 of the playoffs, but their games in New York were horrendous, making it look like they were bound to lose the series.
Game five at home was essentially a must-win, and it was incredibly entertaining. Just over five minutes into the game, it was 2-0 Rangers, and things were not looking good at all. However, halfway through the game Ottawa had taken a 3-2 lead, only to see it get tied again at 3-3.
With the Senators down 4-3 and the net empty near the end of the game, Derick Brassard was the hero after the puck pinballed around the crease and somehow went in. The hero that most people will remember though is our old friend Kyle Turris. Despite some shaky play, they were one win away from the third round. Shades of round one in 2012:
7: Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman wizardry
Forget Senators moments, this was one of the best plays of the year in the entire league. I physically jumped out of my seat for this goal, and I was in complete shock that it was executed so perfectly.
Normally this goal would be in the top-3, but there were so many other big goals in the playoffs that it had to be relegated all the way to seven.
6: Bobby Ryan wins game one for Ottawa
For the second time in the playoffs, Ryan put the game to bed in overtime, and this time it was thanks to a slick move on a breakaway. With this win, they had a lead in the Conference Finals for the first time in a decade. At the time of this series, I was in Europe so I had to watch the games at 2am, and sadly I fell asleep before seeing this goal live. Not enough dedication, I know.
5: Ryan Dzingel puts them one goal away from the Final
I feel like this will be one of the most forgotten goals in franchise history in the future. But at the time, it was an enormous goal that tied game seven of the Conference Finals at three with just over five minutes to play. From that moment until Chris Kunitz’ flutterpuck, Dzingel saved the season.
I’ll never forget how many times I fist pumped when he scored, and seeing how elated the Senators were on that goal makes me incredibly nostalgic. If they had won, this would’ve been even higher on this list. Oh what could have been...
4: Senators run Marc-Andre Fleury out of the net
After Pittsburgh had evened up the Conference Finals at one, the Senators came out absolutely flying in game two at home. Just 13 minutes in, it was 4-0 and Fleury was pulled. You could maybe argue that the Penguins switching to Matt Murray the rest of the way ultimately hurt the Senators, but in that moment, it felt incredible to be a Senators fan.
They were two wins away from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, and they had a chance to get a stranglehold on the series before heading back to Pittsburgh. After that game, it felt like winning the cup was possible.
3: Dion’s OT winner in game two
I have this game/overtime goal up here so high because this is the game that changed everything for Ottawa in their playoff run. They were coming off of an unfortunate loss in game one, and with the score being 3-1 for Boston in the 3rd, it was looking like the Senators would be down 0-2 despite having home ice advantage.
Two games had not even been played yet, but it seemed like the sky was falling and that their playoff run was going to be short-lived.
However, Chris Wideman, Derick Brassard, and Dion Phaneuf were there to save the day. After Phaneuf’s goal, it truly felt like Ottawa was given a new life. And with that, a miracle run began:
2: Clarke MacArthur’s return
I’m going to cheat and not use one specific moment or game, but rather the entire experience of seeing MacArthur return to action with the Senators. After it was reported that he was going to miss the rest of the season, literally nobody thought he’d be playing in April.
We can debate whether or not he was fully healthy, but at the time, it was emotional getting to see him play again. His first goal against Boston in game two was awesome, and the fact that he scored the series clincher against the Bruins in game six is absolutely perfect.
I cherished him when he returned, and I think we all miss him once again now that he’s out.
1: Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s heroics
This has to be number one.
Somehow, his other playoff hat-trick against the Montreal Canadiens is now his second best. This game perfectly encapsulates the Senators playoff run, as it included some despair in the middle of the game, a heroic comeback, and a thrilling overtime win. Pageau’s four goal game will be remembered for decades, and it is even more amazing considering that his 2nd and 3rd goals were in the final minutes of the game.
This man will get free pints in Ottawa for the rest of his life.
What are some of your other favourite moments? The NHL100 Classic? The 6-game winning streak in February? Bobby Ryan’s other overtime goal? Let’s talk about some better times.