On history, streaks, and the playoffs
A look at the Streak's place in Sens history and the significance of what it means to the team.
There's an intersection just outside of town that my dad's been stopping at for more than 25 years. It's not particularly busy nor is it particularly important but it is noteworthy for its predictability.
The light is always red.
For more than 25 years my dad has been pulling up to this intersection and stopping. Every time. Every time it's red. Sometimes it's close, he gets glimpse of yellow but as he draws nearer it changes to red. It's a long light and he sits and waits. Taps his fingers on the wheel. After a minute or two you know he's going to turn to you and say "every time, every time". This sort of thing irritates him greatly, but he grudgingly accepts it. This happens every time too.
And then one time it was green.
The Streak is that green light.
The Streak is that solitary green light in an endless sequence of red lights. The Streak is the statistically unlikely, the Streak is the improbable, the Streak is the unbelievable. And not just because it's fun, but because you've been waiting at that red light for years for this to happen. The Streak is the once in a lifetime experience.
The Streak is that green light.
The Sens had a two percent chance of making the playoffs before the Streak. That green light is like going 21-3-3 with an unknown AHL goaltender with no previous history of success.
Streaks like this only happen once, maybe twice, in the life of a fan. From a position of hopelessness this team turned things around with unexpected and near flawless goaltending, followed by offensive outbursts, and one hell of a third line. After a few weeks the Streak was embraced, an organic revelry and excitement poured out from Ottawa fans.
It wasn't just about the burgers.
The excitement and pure emotion was the first real joy this fan base has experienced since the dreadful sequence of events beginning with "probably not". It has been two long years of negativity and blame but slowly, one win at a time, we have turned the page.
The Streak got us into the playoffs but more than that, it cemented a new era of Sens history within the organization and fan base.
This is something new.
The Sens enter the playoffs for the first time without the familiar faces of the past. No Alfie, no Spezza, most likely no Neil or Phillips. That's 382 games of playoff experience gone from the lineup. That's the memories of past failures, of losses to the Leafs and heartbreak against New Jersey and Anaheim, firmly in the past.
The lineup Ottawa has primarily used during this run lacks playoff experience. Five Senators will make their playoff debuts. The team's new number one goalie, Andrew Hammond, has never played an NHL playoff game. In fact, since 2008 he's only played four playoff games (with Bingo in 2014). Chris Phillips has 114 postseason games under his belt; the defense Ottawa has been rolling throughout March has just 42 games. The quartet of Patrick Wiercioch, Cody Ceci, Eric Gryba, and Mark Borowiecki have played just 5 career NHL playoff contests. Ottawa's recent preferred lineup has 214 games of playoff experience. The team's preferred bench? 321.
That inexperience isn't a shortcoming. That novelty isn't a problem. Something new has started, something different has taken hold. A new chapter of Sens history is here.
It begins, with a green light.