Something has been really bugging me since the Ottawa Senators have been eliminated from the playoffs.
The Senators DID NOT choke.
They were simply front row seat witnesses to the defending cup champions and two time conference champions.
The Penguins just out classed the younger, more inexperianced Senators.
Four of the six games were one goal games. Considering injuries to key players like Kovalev, Michalek, Kuba and Alfredsson (played with a torn abdominal muscle). Can that really be considered a choke. The goalies did not choke either, 56 saves in game 5 for Leclaire, Elliott may not have played like he did in the season, but the Penguins made it extremely hard on him to see the pucks, let alone stop them.
Yes, maybe the top line did not perform up to potential, but considering the injury to Alfie, maybe their performance is not that poor. Also, with the injury to Michalek, Peter Reign stepped up into the top line and was one of the best players for the team.
The Penguins were just too strong for Ottawa and two plays justify it. In game 3, Crosby hit Alfredsson, Alfie fell to the ground and got up gingerly. This play was more than just a hit, it was captain on captain, best player on best player, face of the franchise on, well you get the picture. This a more symbolic moment than anything, and in a way, foreshadowing the outcome.
The other defining the moment was in game 2, Spezza followed Crosby around the net. Crosby would return behind the net a few more times only to pass the puck to Chris Letang at the point for a one time goal that would turn out to be the game winner. Many analysts have said that Spezza deserves the Selke trophy for this play alone despite Pittsburgh scoring. This proved that no matter what the Sens would be able to do, they would not stop Crosby and the Penguins.
This year was not a choke like many of the other years that have plagued the history of the Ottawa Senators, just poor luck at the draw in facing the best team in the league.