The Ottawa Senators have made the second round of the playoffs and taken a 1-0 lead over the New York Rangers.
With only four teams left in each conference the Sens are officially one of the Beasts of the East. Despite this, the Sens don’t seem to be generating the same respect as many of the other teams that have made it this far.
The Importance of Results
The further a team makes it in the season and playoffs, the more attention they get around the league. Any team that makes the playoffs is at the very least considered a decent team. However, every year there always seems to be a team or two that gets in because of a series of fortunate events or a string of luck.
For example, this year the Toronto Maple Leafs made an amazing turnaround, going from last in the league in 2016 to the playoffs in 2017. However, they likely wouldn’t have qualified if it wasn’t for the Tampa Bay Lightning being decimated by injuries this season. The view of the Leafs would be completely different if they had finished with two fewer points. 30th to 18th doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as 30th to playoffs. All of this is to say that results matter in terms of league respect.
The second round is a funny thing. No one gets there on a fluke. The second round is a barrier for the best teams in the league and a bonus for the teams that squeak into the playoffs. No one starts the season saying the second round is their goal. The contending teams at the very least want to make the third round and the bubble teams just want to make the playoffs. However, despite being a somewhat awkward spot in the season, the second round is the first time where every team remaining gets a substantial amount of media attention. With eight teams left there’s nowhere to hide.
A Lack of Respect
Generally a certain level of respect is given to teams who made the second round. It’s hard to win a seven game series without being the better team, especially in a year where none of the first round series went to seven games. Despite this, many members of the media seem hesitant to give Ottawa the respect of the other remaining teams.
This is a common theme with Ottawa, despite finishing with more points than Boston, most analysts favoured the Bruins. Now Ottawa is considered a huge underdog against the Rangers. While, they did finish lower in the standings, it’s puzzling that many are quick to write off the Senators. One of the biggest questions surrounding the Sens is the fact that they win so many one goal games. By many it’s considered unsustainable. However, this isn’t a vacuum and the Ottawa Senators are not going to regress to the mean. Guy Boucher has said since the day he was hired that he was going to build this team so that they would succeed in close one goal playoff games.
These questions aren’t uncommon as they are comparable to those that surrounded the 2015 Anaheim Ducks. They barely finished positive in goal differential but won the Pacific Division. They ended up falling one game short of the Stanley Cup Final. The media came around to believing in the Ducks and they’ll eventually do the same thing for the Sens if they keep winning.
The Ultimate Goal
With every win the Senators turn more heads. Every win is a step closer to the ultimate goal. This is a team that wasn’t supposed to make the playoffs, but here they are. The media will learn to respect the Ottawa Senators because they belong and they’re here to stay. Even if they don’t that’s perfectly fine, you don’t need respect, you need sixteen wins. Ottawa has five. Eleven to go.
Go Sens Go