I was really hoping the Washington Capitals were going to win their second-round series. I thought the Senators would line up better against them the Penguins, but it ran deeper than that. At this point, the Sidney Crosby Pens are starting to hit the level of the early-2000s Mats Sundin-led Maple Leafs. After the Sens beat them in 2007, they’ve kicked Ottawa out of the playoffs in 2008, 2010, and 2013. I wasn’t looking forward to yet another time facing them. I figured my psyche could handle a second all-time loss to the Caps, but I wasn’t so sure about the Pens.
But I’ve slowly come around to the idea. It started in Game 1 when Ottawa played better and won. It continued in Game 2 when it was again a one-goal game, and on to Game 3 when Ottawa demolished them. I started to realize that if Ottawa was going to return to the Stanley Cup Finals, they’d have to knock off their kryptonite.
Last game was ugly, but it’s not the first ugly game of the series. I remember entering Game 4, my fiancée asked me if I was nervous. I said I wasn’t, because the worst that could happen was a Penguins blowout, which would just cancel out the Sens’ blowout from Game 3. The return blowout happened a game later, but the truth still stands: it’s been a close series, with each team winning a single laugher.
So now there’s some adversity, but I’m sure no one expected the Sens to reach the Cup finals without facing elimination even once. You can’t do everything the easy way. Sometimes you have to dance with the devil. If Ottawa wins these next two, nobody can say, “Oh, they’ve had it so easy these playoffs.” I’m fired up for a win tonight. I expect guys like Craig Anderson and Mike Hoffman to rebound. I know Erik Karlsson can be other-worldly. I’m expecting to see them leave it all on the ice so we can talk about heading back to Pittsburgh on Thursday.