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THN.com Blog: Sens face tough playoff odds

Jason Kay
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Martin Gerber and Chris Neil helped the Senators top the Canadiens Saturday to improve to 14-2. Author: The Hockey News

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THN.com Blog: Sens face tough playoff odds

Jason Kay
By:

The Anaheim Ducks may be battling a wicked Stanley Cup hangover, but it’s the Ottawa Senators who face the bigger challenge in shaking the after-affects of last year’s big party – at  least from an historical perspective.

A crunch of the data shows while it’s a mountainous feat to repeat as NHL playoff champs, it’s nearly impossible to succeed after coming oh-so-close.

The past 10 Cup finalists (or final round losers, if you prefer) have combined to win one post-season round the following season.

That’s not a typo.

The Dallas Stars, who succumbed to New Jersey in 2000, managed to knock off the Oilers in a 2001 first round matchup.

The other nine? Nada. Zilch. Zippo.

In fact, four of them (Edmonton ’06; Anaheim ’03; Carolina ’02; and, Washington ’98) failed to even qualify for the subsequent spring fling.

The Senators appear determined to be the exception. With just two losses through 16 games, they are the class of the NHL – right now.

But repeated and sustained success is daunting in a league where parity, injuries and a tough schedule can easily knock clubs off course.

And let’s not forget the hangover. Scan back further in league history and you find the past 22 Cup finalists combined for a mere nine playoff round victories the ensuing season. And it has been 23 years since a runner-up won it all the following year – the 1984 Oilers.

Good luck, Ottawa.

SAY WHAT? Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella is a double-edged sword: A colorful, emotional man who often provides juicy quotes – and one who says some inane things in the heat of the moment.

Here’s a recent example of the latter: “…I don't think players realize they are going to get hit because it’s really a league directive not to hit anymore.”

Tortorella was still upset about a major boarding penalty assessed to Nick Tarnasky in a game against Florida – a hit Tortorella felt was clean.

The coach is within his rights to disagree with a call, but the generalization about a “league directive” is ludicrous. There is still plenty of body contact in today’s NHL; the steps taken this season to try to protect the players – a policy formulated in part by the players themselves – are long past due.

Tortorella’s thinking on this subject is backward and old school. Just ask Patrice Bergeron, the victim of a “borderline” hockey hit  who had to be wheeled out of his press conference earlier this week in a wheelchair.

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THN.com Blog: Sens face tough playoff odds