Weekly Question: When Did You Last Feel This Optimistic About the Ottawa Senators?

It’s a great time to be a Senators fan. When was the last time you felt this great?

To say that the vibes are great for the Ottawa Senators right now would be a massive understatement. They won again last night to make it five in a row for the first time since 2017, and they sit just three points out of a playoff spot. With new ownership coming in, a rink at LeBreton Flats being so close to finalized, and the core of the team looking set and locked in for years to come, there is a lot to be excited about with this organization. They’re still unlikely to make the playoffs, but even if they don’t, there is so much to look forward to with this group of players.

I genuinely can’t remember being this optimistic about the team, which is the focus of today’s question. Obviously the Senators have had their fair share of incredible teams, and they absolutely should have won the Stanley Cup in the past. So my question is this: when was the last time you felt this optimistic about the Senators? Not the time when you felt the most optimistic overall, but just the last time you did about the overall state of the franchise before 2023. Perhaps you aren’t quite on board yet, but I have a hard time believing you feel worse than at any other point during this rebuild.

2017: Matt Duchene Trade

This one might sound strange in retrospect, but at the time of the Duchene trade to Ottawa, the Senators were 6-3-5 and had just gone to the Conference Finals the season before. Although they lost Kyle Turris in the deal, this was seen as a win-now move, and they were hopefully going to keep adding before the 2018 playoffs. We know what happened afterward, but there was genuine excitement when this trade was made.

2017: Up 2-1 in the Conference Finals

Man...Ottawa was painfully close in 2017. I guess you could also pinpoint overtime in Game Seven as an exact moment for this too, but after Game Three, it felt like Ottawa was actually going to win the Cup. They had just dismantled the Penguins 5-1 and ran Marc-Andre Fleury out of the net. The Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators in the West seemed very beatable, and somehow the Senators just need two wins in four games to get to the Finals, making it seem like their Cinderella run could end in a championship. Alas...

2015: Hamburglar Run

I don’t know if people necessarily thought too much about the future of the team while this run was going on, but I don’t think we’ll ever have more fun than we did during that stretch where Ottawa went 20-3-3 in their final 26 games thanks in large part to Andrew Hammond. Even though the team just finished 7th in the Eastern Conference, they had a relatively young core with Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Bobby Ryan, JG Pageau, and some good supporting players. That run made it seem like it could be the beginning of something better, which we momentarily got in 2017.

2013: Beat the Canadiens in Round One

For a team that has only made the playoffs five times over the past 15 seasons, they sure have had a lot of memorable playoff moments. Beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in 2013 was one of them, especially because two of their wins were 6-1 killings. Just like with the previous option, Ottawa had a good young core with even more promising prospects coming up, so making it to the second round despite missing Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza for most of the regular season was very impressive and the future looked bright.

2012: Up 3-2 against the New York Rangers

Jason Spezza scored the game-winner against the Rangers in Game Five at Madison Square Garden, and all Ottawa had to do was win one of the next two games to move on to Round Two. The Senators were huge underdogs as the #8 seed that year, and they were barely beginning to bring in top prospects like Mark Stone and Jakob Silfverberg. As with previous points, things were looking up for Ottawa.

2007: Daniel Alfredsson Sends Sens to the Finals

2007 was obviously the furthest the Senators have gone in the playoffs, and who can forget Daniel Alfredsson’s heroic overtime winner against the Buffalo Sabres to send them to the Finals.

Although the 2007 team wasn’t their best roster, they were still a dominant team and were not choking under the pressure for the first time. It looked like the Cup might be coming home, and there were no signs of them slowing down like there might have been in 2017.

2006: Beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round One

The 2006 team has a case for being the best Senators team of all-time, as they were first in the Eastern Conference with 113 points (tied for a franchise record), and they were loaded at every position. They easily beat the Lightning 4-1 in Round One, and it seemed like the only team that could potentially be tough for them was the Detroit Red Wings, who had 124 points. The Red Wings didn’t even make it out of the first round though, and Ottawa eventually fell to the Sabres in Round Two.

2003: Chris Phillips Ties up Conference Finals

The only other team that could potentially be called the best in franchise history was the 2002-03 team, which also had 113 points. They beat the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers in the first two rounds, and then came back from 3-1 down in the Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Chris Philips was the overtime hero in Game Six, who kept their season alive. It ultimately wasn’t enough of course, but that was the first time they were one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals.

So there you have it. A lot of memorable moments over the years and many times when it was easy to be optimistic about the team. Remember, the question is not when you felt the most optimistic, but it is when did you feel as optimistic (or more) than you do right now about the Senators.

When did you last feel this optimistic about the Ottawa Senators?

2017: Duchene trade14
2017: Up 2-1 in the ECF131
2015: Hamburglar Run38
2013: Beat Habs in Round One14
2012: Up 3-2 vs. the Rangers5
2007: Alfredsson Sends Sens to Finals96
2006: Beat Lightning in Round One5
2003: Phillips Ties up ECF16

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