Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bragging time for the boys of Bytown

They were considered a team rebuilding at the start of the season, the prognostications of many that this would be a long, cold winter of frustration for fans of the Ottawa Senators, watching as their franchise began the long climb back to respectable standings.

And while the season is hardly over and the playoff seedings far from set, this 2011-12 campaign has been much more than just a pleasant surprise for the Senators, it has been a testament towards the work ethic, buying into a coach's message and that rare combination of youth moving up the curve quickly, while the veterans refuse to disappear into the sunset just yet.

Tuesday night, as has been the case in game after game this year, the Senators battled back in the third period, erasing a two goal deficit to their provincial rivals the Leafs and leaving the Air Canada centre with two more valuable points, leaving them but a couple out of first place in the NHL East, a far cry from that 15th place ranking that more than a few observers had them placed at when the season began.

The results of the season thus far, seem to have made Bryan Murray the Nostradamus of the NHL, when he spoke last year he suggested that the Sens were more a case of tweaking rather than retooling, that despite the twin scenarios of Cory Clouston's removal from his duties as coach and the Sens fishtailing out of the playoffs.

The first step was to find a coach and in Paul MacLean, Murray has clearly hit the jackpot, the long time assistant coach in the NHL has more than hit his stride behind the Senators bench. The players responding to his lesson plan, showcasing the results on the ice, all while exhibiting one of those "this game isn't lost" work ethics night after night.

The rise of youngsters such as Erik Karlsson who has become a dominant force on the Senators blue line   has clearly resonated with the veterans on the team, both young and old alike are rising to the occasion hearing the message and the positive vibes coming from behind the bench.

Add into the mix some smart trades and with the Senators,chock a block full of prospects on the farm, a team that is seemingly planning more now that they are in the upper reaches of the standings with the playoffs on the horizon.

The season of surprise comes at almost the perfect time for Sens fans, what with the city hosting this years All Star Game, with the home crowd voting early and voting often in the recent all star balloting to ensure that the home team had more than enough representation on the squad.

And while some may quibble (especially in Toronto) about their starting status, judging by the season the team is having, one suspects that the four Sens on the roster are there on merit, as well as from the passion of the fans.

All of this excitement of January, the All Star game to come and the never say die attitude of the team on the ice bodes well for what may come in April and May and if they dare to dream in the capital in June as well.

National Post-- Kyle Turris trade continues to pay dividends in Ottawa
National Post-- Dion Phaneuf shaken up as Leafs fall to Senators
National Post-- Leafs-Senators rivalry could be heating up again
Globe and Mail-- Sens coach MacLean a turnaround artist
Globe and Mail-- Six-game road swing could determine Senators' playoff hopes
Globe and Mail-- Surprise, surprise... Senators continue their ascent
Globe and Mail-- Surging Senators prove hockey pundits wrong
Ottawa Sun-- Suddenly, Leafs looking way up at Sens
Ottawa Sun-- Sens stick it to Leafs
Ottawa Citizen-- Senators prove resilient again
Ottawa Citizen-- Erik getting hard to ignore
Ottawa Citizen-- East is no beast, much to Sens' benefit

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