BOSTON - Even though Peter Schaefer has his own playoff series to worry about, the Boston Bruins winger can't help but feel some sympathy for his old friends on the Ottawa Senators.
Schaefer said he watched the Sens lose Game 3 of their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night to go down 3-0.
"With a lot of friends I used to play with on the team, I definitely watched," Schaefer said prior to Boston's game against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. "It was tough to watch."
Schaefer says he still exchanges phone calls and text messages with several members of the Senators on a regular basis, but the dynamic of the relationships have obviously changed a fair bit.
"They're friends," he said, "but they're also enemies."
Schaefer was an important piece in Ottawa's run to the Stanley Cup final last year before being traded to Boston for Shean Donovan over the summer.
To him, the loss of Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly to injuries and having captain Daniel Alfredsson play hurt in Game 3 has been too much for Ottawa to overcome. That's why Schaefer's of the opinion that even though the Senators have underachieved this season, he doesn't think wholesale changes are needed to make the team competitive again.
"I'm sure they'll regroup," he said. "They have a great organization."
This season has been a difficult one for Schaefer.
Much like the Senators, he hasn't been able to live up to expectations in Boston all year, but he's been an effective player for coach Claude Julien in the series against Montreal.
"I didn't have the regular season I wanted," he said. "But the playoffs are a different story."
Schaefer almost single-handedly created the play that led to Marc Savard's overtime winner in Game 3, drawing a penalty and controlling the puck long enough to give Savard time to come off the bench as the extra attacker.
This is the first time in Schaefer's career that he's played for an American team after spending his first three seasons in Vancouver and the previous four seasons in Ottawa. He says competing for the public's attention in Boston makes it a completely different experience than in Ottawa, and that has both its good and bad sides.
"There's no Patriots and no Red Sox in Ottawa, you're the only show," he said. "So that can be great, but when things don't go well it can also get really negative."
Schaefer is one of the few players in Boston's room who can say he's played in a Stanley Cup final, and Julien said Tuesday that experience is vital for his team.
"There's nothing better than having a guy in the room who has lived through it and can share that experience with their teammates," Julien said. "We don't have that much experience in our room, so those guys become even more important."
Schaefer, however, says he doesn't bring up his run to the final with the Sens all that often because of fellow winger Shawn Thornton, who was on the winning side last spring with the Anaheim Ducks.
"It's tough to talk with Thornton in the room," Schaefer said with a laugh. "He always rides me about it."