Coyotes and Panthers and Bears…Let’s Tri!

It seems the secret to winning, if you’re the Ottawa Senators, is to play a team nicknamed after an animal.

Well, as luck would have it, tonight the Sens take on the Bruins.

Buy your pro-line tickets folks, this ones a lock!

If only.

The fact is, for the Senators, tonights match-up holds several interesting motivations to win.

  1. It’s a home game, and these should always be wins.
  2. It would represent the third win in a row, a significant statement for a team so awful out of the gate.
  3. The 2 pts would put the Sens at .500 for the season, making for a virtual re-start, allowing the team to climb out of the hole they dug themselves into.
  4. Boston is a divisional rival.
  5. Boston is among the top tier teams the Sens hoped to be competing with for tops in the NE, making this both a statement game, and a four pointer.

The fact is, no matter what happens tonight, the Sens have at least looked better over the past stretch of games, with the obvious exception vs. Montreal.

That at least gives hope where, for some, there was none.

In the match versus the panthers, albeit not a powerhouse team, the Sens looked dominant, and focused upon winning.

Most importantly, when they got down early, after controlling the play to that point in the game, they didn’t respond to the adversity by falling back into their passive game.  Instead they continued to do what was working for them everywhere but on the score sheet.

Eventually, as it always does, the smart/hard play paid off, netting 3 goals in the 2nd, to take a strong two goal lead.

To me, at this point, with the lead, it become the most critical part of the game, more important than the single win or loss that could result.

Would the Senators continue to play as they did before gaining the lead, or would they once again allow themselves to become focused on not losing?

A confident team would stick to the plan, and try to build on the lead.

A tentative team would back off, attempting to play out the clock, attempting to maintain the win.

In the former, teams win more often than not, and continue to improve their system, by remaining consistent in its execution.

In the latter, teams, at best, go 60/40, winning more than they lose, but never get any sort of rhythm going, and always remain psychologically fragile, as would anyone focused on “not losing”.

The Sens chose to stick to the game plan, widened their lead, and except for a terrible play from Phillips, and a blown call from the ref (Els had the puck covered on the third goal), would have likely cruised to an even more comfortable victory, one that would have far more accurately reflected the actual play on the ice.

Tonight the Sens face a far more challenging opponent, with a goaltender who’s made a living off of stoning the Sens.

If ever a game called for sticking to the plan, for 60 minutes, and playing to win, no matter the scoreboard, this is it.

Win or lose, this team has to play to win, tonight, and every night.


p.s. Here’s the link to my latest b/r article.
Sens vs. Bruins: No Time to Play Dead If Senators Hope to Get The Win


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