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Proteau's Blog: Sens will be back

Adam Proteau
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The Hockey News
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Proteau's Blog: Sens will be back

Adam Proteau
By:
Looking for my thoughts on the Stanley Cup champion Ducks? Check out my Screen Shots column.

Right now, I want to focus on the second-best team in the league.

The Senators have nothing to be ashamed of this morning.

Losing in the final hurts infinitely more than losing in the first round or not making the playoffs at all, but the ghosts Ottawa exorcised this spring aren't likely to return.

Of course, the Sens will make some changes to their roster in the off-season (if I were Dany Heatley, I'd keep my belongings in storage until the fall). But tell me they don't remind you in a way of the Anaheim team that made it to the 2003 final, only to fall short and lose to a more experienced New Jersey team. In my mind, with a few tweaks here and there – and no, Ray Emery shouldn't be one of the tweakees – Ottawa will be back in the championship hunt sooner than later.

Right now, it's difficult not to feel for solid NHL citizens such as Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips and Bryan Murray, all of whom are facing much guff this morning. Some say Alfredsson's slap shot off Scott Niedermayer turned the series in the Ducks' favor; some suggest Phillips' imitation of Steve Smith was the final nail in Ottawa's coffin; and some imply Murray was out-coached by Randy Carlyle.

None of those notions are correct. Without the previous contributions of Alfredsson, Phillips and Murray, the Senators wouldn't have made it to the final in the first place. If you want to blame anyone, blame Heatley, Wade Redden, Andrej Meszaros and Jason Spezza. The collective performance of that quartet against Anaheim was the real weak link in the Sens' chain.

Though The Day After undoubtedly is painful for Ottawa's players and fans, the best may yet be to come. They only need look at their victorious opponents for proof of that.
FEEDBACK:
Have to disagree on the 2003 Ducks comparison. That team played with a lot of heart, overachieved, and pushed a more-experienced team to its limits. With the exception of a few players, the Senators were pathetic. If you make it to the Cup finals, then you had better play like it, and until Game 4, Alfredsson was almost as big a no-show as Heatley and Spezza. And unless it's announced that Spezza was playing with 2 broken femurs, there's no excuse for his complete absence. And let's not disrespect Giguere with comparisons, because at no point was Emery going to steal a game for his team. I desperately wanted Ottawa to win, but I've been a Rangers fan too long and know too well of the look of a team playing without desperation. Kudos to Fisher, McAmmond, and the few others who tried when their teammates didn't.
- Joe Willix

As for the Senators' future, I see them taking more of a step backward like what the last 4 losing finalists did (Carolina in 2002, Anaheim in 2003, Calgary in 2004 and Edmonton in 2006). The competitive balance in the NHL - especially in the East - is too even to expect Ottawa to stand out above the other elite teams in the conference next year.
- T.J.

I also think Ottawa will take a step back next season, partly due to the fact that the element of surprise won't be there. This year, they kind of snuck up on most teams in the East, as they were in 10th place at Christmas, so expectations going into the playoffs were low. Next year, the expectations (and pressure) will be much higher. As for the Ducks, they look really good for another Cup run next year.
- Patrick Kerr

Wow. You failed to mention how the Ducks ruined the sport and sullied thy great name by fighting so often on their win to the Cup. Oh well I suppose the Ducks victory will be worth at least 5 columns lamenting the state of the game..
Wow. You failed to mention how the Ducks ruined the sport and sullied thy great name by fighting so often on their win to the Cup. Oh well I suppose the Ducks victory will be worth at least 5 columns lamenting the state of the game..
- steve w
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Proteau's Blog: Sens will be back