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Follow Me on TwitterRob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at rsoria@ourhometown.ca
Senators have more then a puncher's chance of winning Game Seven
Rob Soria
OurHometown.ca

Senators have more then a puncher
Heading into the playoffs, no one expected anything from the Ottawa Senators. Many felt they would be nothing but a minor speed bump for the New York Rangers to deal with, on their way to a lengthy playoff run. Well that minor speed bump has turned into a major hurdle and one that won't be as easy to overcome, in tonight's deciding Game Seven.
PHOTO CREDIT - OttawaSenators.com

Edmonton - April 26, 2012 - The vibe you get from most people, is that the Ottawa Senators blew their opportunity to eliminate the New York Rangers for the Stanley Cup Playoffs . While I am not one that is in total agreement with Sens forward Nick Foligno's view of them being in "a real good spot", I would not say that they are dead in the water. Heading into the playoffs, no one and I mean no one, expected anything from the Senators. Many felt they would be nothing but a minor speed bump for the Rangers to deal with, on their way to a lengthy playoff run. Well that minor speed bump has turned into a major hurdle and one that won't be as easy to overcome, in tonight's deciding Game Seven.

Much has been made of Craig Anderson's impressive career record against the Rangers at MSG but I think the more telling stat line belongs with the goaltender at the other end of the ice. No one will debate the fact that Henrik Ludqvist is one of the best netminders in the NHL because it would be a ridiculous argument to make. The guys is as consistent as any goalie in the league and is coming off arguably his best season ever. Having said that, King Henrik has never fared that well in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This current playoff has been one of his best post season performances to date but you could argue that he has been no better then Anderson. While that does say a lot about how well the Senators keeper has played, it also shows that Lundqvist continues to struggle when it comes to outplaying the opposing teams goalie, come playoff time.

This is sixth time in his seven year NHL career, that he has led the Rangers to the playoffs but he has only won two playoff series to date and hasn't won one since 2008. In my mind, his 18-23 playoff record knocks Lundqvist down a peg or two amongst NHL netminders. Make no mistake, he is a great goalie but truly elite goaltenders find ways to get the job done in the post season and he has yet to accomplish that. The pressure of Game Seven is squarely on his shoulders and his alone. New York seems to struggle to score goals every post season and the fact that they will have to deal with a guy that clearly has their number, doesn't bode well for the Broadway Blueshirts.

Another thing to keep in mind, is that while Ottawa is a fairly young and inexperienced group, they have veteran players like Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Chris Phillips and Chris Neil that have not only experienced winning in the playoffs but have done so wearing a Senators jersey. Something the Rangers simply do not have. Sure they have the likes of Brad Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko on their roster that have won elsewhere but the Sens have that guy as well, in Sergei Gonchar. The Senators should have a huge advantage when it comes to intangibles because they have players that know what it takes to get the job done. The fact that their core veteran group is as strong as it is, will make the pressure of the situation seem far less stressful for the Sens younger players.

If Ottawa can withstand what will likely be a bit of onslaught from the Rangers over the first five or ten minutes, they should be in the drivers seat. The longer the game stays close, the more pressure New York will feel. Don't get me wrong, I am not one that believes in the notion that young players sometime don't feel the pressure because they don't know any better. That is a bunch of horse bleep. Anyone that has ever played a competitive sport, at any level, knows full well that pressure goes hand and hand with any sort of big game. The ones that are generally most successful, are the ones that know how to deal with the moment and that can only come with experience. Which is exactly the reason why the Ottawa Senators have more then a puncher's chance of winning Game Seven.


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