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Five Thoughts for Friday

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Things are looking pretty good on a Friday where Ottawa can clinch a birth in the second round of the playoffs

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

This Friday has to feel better than most as a Senators fan. Ottawa hasn’t moved onto the second round just yet, but they have three chances to do so, and hopefully they can put this series to bed with a win at home tonight.

Here are some positive thoughts on this Friday.

Bobby Rising From the Dead

How about Ryan? He has scored three massive goals for this team, and two of them were game-winners. I wouldn’t say that he has looked like peak Bobby Ryan, but he at least looks like someone who can contribute. His contract is going to be too much money no matter what, but fans will not be as harsh if he can provide some level of offense.

That’s why these few playoff games have been promising, because he’s showing that he still has some offensive ability left in the tank. The Senators are a low-scoring team, and in order to be successful, Ryan needs to be producing. As much as many of us like to take jabs at him on twitter, I’d much rather be cheering him on as he scores big goals.

Also, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but...I did predict this would happen.

Karlsson Earning Legendary Status

Erik Karlsson may win the Norris trophy this season, which would be another feather in his cap. However, these last three games he has taken his game to a level that is almost unprecedented. He looked banged up in game one, but since then, Boston simply has no answer for him at all.

These two passes from him are peak Karlsson:

Watching him single-handedly bring Ottawa to a 3-1 lead is pretty incredible, and it’s not just the Ottawa crowd that is recognizing his brilliance. In these four games, he has a whopping 60.27 CF%, as well as a +16.71 CF% relative, which ranks fourth in the league.

Up against one of the biggest possession monsters in Patrice Bergeron, Karlsson has neutralized him to an even 50% shot share. That has immense value.

I really hope Ottawa can move onto the second round for the sole reason that we’ll be able to watch the beast that is Erik Karlsson. He should not be taken for granted.

Injuries Were Understated

Coming into the series, the Bruins were definitely the favourites despite the Senators having home-ice advantage. Amongst the Senators fanbase, people were quite confident that Ottawa would win, but everywhere else the consensus pick was Boston (even I picked Boston in 7).

I think the thing that many people underestimated though were Boston’s injuries. David Krejci missed the first two games, plus Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, and Colin Miller have all missed time in this series. Krug and Carlo are two of their top three defensemen, and many people seemed to think that Boston easily had the upper-hand despite those losses.

Of course, Ottawa has not won the series yet, and they have won all of their games by one goal. But still, the Senators had one of the lowest odds out of any team on multiple different models, and they are close to beating the odds. Plus, Tyler Dellow gave this infamous blog title:

https://theathletic.com/51644/2017/04/12/dellow-an-actual-senator-would-have-a-better-chance-against-an-actual-bear/

It was naive to think that Boston would have walked all over Ottawa with such a depleted lineup. To be fair to myself, I thought this series would be a close coin flip, which is what it has essentially been. It just made no sense to think this would have been a quick and easy win for the Bruins, and the main reason is due to their injury troubles.

Anderson Finally Stepped up

In the first three games, Ottawa had played well enough, but they were missing one key ingredient: goaltending. Craig Anderson made some timely saves in game three after Boston had tied to make it 3-3, but he had not been as dominant as we had hoped him to be.

Heading into game four, he had an .892 SV%, which was only good enough because Tuukka Rask was equally as bad. However, on Wednesday he shut the door and (pretty much) stopped everything in sight. He did allow the disallowed goal, but that’ll never show up on the scoresheet.

With that one effort, his SV% rose all the way to .917% these playoffs. We know that he’s capable of stealing a game or two, and he did that in game four. If he keeps it up, Boston doesn’t have much of a chance.

Series far From Over

While I’ve been talking about things that are going well for the Senators this series, Ottawa still has to finish the job. They have three chances to win, but it’s not impossible to come back from a 3-1 series deficit. In the 288 times that a team has been down 3-1 in a playoff series, they have completed the comeback 28 times, or 9.7% of the time.

The odds are in Ottawa’s favour, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. The Bruins were close to being up 2-0 while heading home, and every game this series has been decided by one goal. If Ottawa fails to seal the deal tonight, I’ll be a bit nervous considering game six would be in Boston.

We can certainly be excited about the possibility of moving on, but it’s far from over. I just hope the team sees it the same way.