If the Senators do end up facing the Boston Bruins in the first round, it’s a given that Ottawa will be the heavy underdogs and oddsmakers from Vegas to Venice will be picking the Bruins in their sleep. It's a bet even your grandmother would approve of (although, knowing my Granny Jean, she'd probably lay $50 on the Sens if she knew a bookie and maybe drop a few choice f-bombs at the TV if required - I've yet to know a more devoted fan than her).
In a first intermission interview on Sportsnet during Thursday night's possible first-round preview, captain Daniel Alfredsson spoke the line you'll be hearing all week from most members of the organization - "We have nothing to lose." In a way, it's Hockey Psychology 101. Going in with that mindset can take a lot of pressure off a room, especially when there's a nucleus of young guys going into their first NHL playoffs.
Except the balance of playoff experience between Ottawa and Boston is not as lopsided as one would initially think.
If you take the top 10 from each team in terms of post-season games played, the Senators suddenly don’t look so green.
Granted, the Bruins have more depth of experience throughout the lineup and a lot of it was accumulated recently, which counts for something, but Ottawa still has five players who would make it into Boston’s top 10. They also have two players, Sergei Gonchar and Alfredsson, with more post-season games than Zdeno Chara, the Bruins leader.
And if you look at that list, Ottawa’s top 10 in experience seems a little more skilled than the Bruins. Chris Neil and Shawn Thornton play a similar role but I’d take Neil in a playoff game over Thornton.
In the end, it’s just numbers on a piece of paper and if you go beyond the Top 10 on the Senators, you’ll see a lot of 0’s in the games played column. Yet a lot of those “zeroes” won a Calder Cup championship in the AHL just last season.
Maybe the gap just got a little smaller….
If somehow the Senators end up in 8th and have to play the Rangers .... well, never mind.
Ottawa – Top 10 in Post-Season Games
1. Sergei Gonchar – 118
2. Daniel Alfredsson – 107
3. Chris Phillips – 97
4. Chris Neil – 74
5. Jason Spezza – 46
6. Milan Michalek – 40
7. Filip Kuba – 24
8. Nick Foligno – 10
9. Four players tied with 6 games (Erik Karlsson, Matt Carkner, Zack Smith, Jesse Winchester)
Boston - Top 10 in Post-Season Games
1. Zdeno Chara – 100
2. Andrew Ference – 99
3. Brian Rolston – 70
4. Shawn Thornton – 62
5. Chris Kelly - 61
6. Milan Lucic - 55
7. Patrice Bergeron - 54
8. David Krejci – 52
9. Joe Corvo – 45
10. Dennis Seidenberg – 44