Big game tonight. The Canadians and the Senators. My stress level has hit code red. What a match up. The first of three in the final nine games of the regular NHL season. I have donned my Sens Jersey, I have my beer glasses frosting in the fridge, and I’ve taken my stress medicine. (Yoga...before the game. Works wonders.)
This is being touted by the Ottawa media as “The Big Showdown”. They aren’t far off the beaten track with that. These next few games could very well determine who, if either of them, is the cream of the crop. Which team, because I do believe that it is really a contest between these two teams, and none of the others, have the potential to go... All the Way.
There is no longer any controversy surrounding who is the number-one goaltender in Ottawa. There are no longer any discrepancies over discipline or coaching style, or even about the teams’ unity and attitude. They are now, after Murray has taken the reins, starting to look like the team that went to the Stanley Cup last year. They are skating faster, they are playing smarter, and they are playing as the team they were at the beginning of this season.
Take note, and remember this, Montreal has a phenomenal team. If they win the Cup, I want it in writing that I predicted it first. To be honest, I am a Sens fan first, Habs fan second. If you want my opinion now, before the game, I say Montreal has the potential to take Ottawa, and every other team, and go the distance. If you look at the teams’ stats though, they both have very similar characteristics. Their top line maybe isn’t as effective as that of Ottawa, so considering that, perhaps the Sens have the edge.
What it may come down to in the end, between these two teams at least, is the goaltending. Martin Gerber, since Murray has finally shown his confidence, has shown star quality goaltending. So has Carey Price. I watched Price in the Junior Championship and this young man is going to have a stellar career. While you can’t always put the blame on a team’s success or failure on the shoulders of a goaltender, I believe, this time, it will make all the difference.The next three games will predict the future.
Of the Eastern Conference.