Senators Strike Back: Craig Hartsburg Whips Ottawa into Shape

Sara Van CriekingenContributor INovember 5, 2008

It's about time that the Senators finally showed the Capitals what hockey is all about. To Sens fans, this wasn't just a hockey game. This was a showdown between national capitals. It wasn't any less critical knowing that they were playing in front of thousands of screaming fans, and even more substantial in the fact that those fans were members of the Canadian national forces.

What started out as a humble game of hockey soon turned out to be a battle to the death. Losing last night would have meant losing yet again to Alexander Ovechkin and his team of slightly ghoul-like minions. But the Sens were ready for confrontation. They proved that they weren't easy to push around and that they were capable of testing goalie Brent Johnson 49 times to ultimately come out on top.

What is so different this year, you may ask? "Coaching," is the response.

The Senators have structure, they have an authoritative figure, and they have one of the best coaches in the world heading their team: Craig Hartsburg. Guiding the Canadian Juniors to gold two years in a row, one of his many achievements, proves the capabilities that he has. This year the Senators have a coach who will not rest until he has tried every possible play and lineup that is conceivably possible to the Senators.

It is crucial that fans stick together and back up the players. It is negative to start implying that Martin Gerber is a No. 2 goalie, and that Chris Phillips deserves to be canned.

As a team, the players must come together and sort out their flaws. As individuals, they have to respect the team and put in the effort this game so needfully deserves.

As you may have observed in the game last night, not every effort is rewarded, but the effort can lead to a win, nonetheless. Mike Fisher and Dany Heatley acknowledged this, and for the massive amounts of attempts and chances that were created and failed, Heatley finally got a goal, and Fisher saved the game in overtime with his display of passion on the ice.

Is this the year that the Senators win the Stanley Cup? This depends on how badly they want the glory in the offseason. However, this is the year that the Sens rebuild their team, show up at every practice, and put their heart on the end of their sticks. What becomes of that, the future solely bestows.