Saturday, April 24, 2010
Good Night Irene
Another tumultuous Ottawa Senators season has come to a close, but at least they went out with dignity.
Down 3-1 in the series rather quickly, this never-say-die team won a gut-testing triple overtime game in enemy territory to stay alive and it took another overtime period for the Penguins to bring them down Saturday night in Game 6.
We'll let the blood dry before making any sweeping conclusions and predictions going forward for this team, but while Senators fans let the verdict sink in over the remainder of the weekend, let us say that this team has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
This season was a resounding success when you consider the state they were in when this whole thing started in Madison Square Garden on October 3rd, 2009.
They were coming off two somewhat disastrous seasons where everyone questioned their character, their dressing room and their management. Many trusted pundits picked them to miss the playoffs again this season after they were forced to unload their top goal scorer Dany Heatley.
Not only did they scratch their way into the playoffs at a very respectable 5th place finish, but they gave the defending Stanley Cup champions all they could handle in a physically brutal 6 game series.
For sure it's a tough loss to swallow for the die hard Senators fan, but brighter days lay ahead.
The Senators have a ton of top end prospects for their defense core and they already have Erik Karlsson blossoming before their eyes as a teenager - already the best offensive defenseman on the team.
The forwards are still young and Daniel Alfredsson probably has two or three years left in him.
Even Pascal Leclaire showed that with a little faith from the coaching staff, he might be able to be the big time goalie they've needed all along. Two games are not enough to declare him the future, but I think it's fair to say that he wasn't given enough rope by Coach Clouston during a season where he needed a little patience from the organization. If Leclaire isn't the guy, they still have Robin Lehner in the system.
But enough of that kind of talk.
It's been a long road and I'm tired of trying to figure it all out as well.
We'll be back sometime next week when all the dust has settled with some end of year thoughts and some ideas of what to expect in the draft and the free agency period.
But for now, I could use a beer and a little Paul Westerberg for a night cap.
Thanks to all the readers and folks who felt the need to comment throughout the season. Black Aces will continue for at least one more season because there's nothing like having an NHL team in your own backyard to talk about, win or lose.