While I might be a Leaf fan, I'm first and foremost a hockey fan and believe the Senators have the game to win the Cup. After watching the first round they simply look like past teams, with similar chemistry and depth, that have won the Cup. More specifically though:
The leader is finally being a leader. After years of justifiably being the fan’s whipping boy in Ottawa, critics are finally seeing the Alfie they had called for every spring. Leading by example on every shift, he has clearly been at the top of his game since the playoffs started and seems to be playing with an edge. A leader’s stats: 6 points in 5 games; look for him to continue at a pt/game pace.
Get off of Redden’s back already! The only reason he’s been poor is because his meszaros is straining him. Redden might do better with a garbage can full of sand tied to his waste than to be paired with Meszaros. For those of you unfamiliar with Meszaros, he’s Redden’s young, promising and most notably mistake prone d-partner. If Redden didn’t have to worry about playing both d-positions he’d be at his best, and arguably the league’s best, at initiating the play from his own zone - probably the best outlet passer in the league. Phillips and Volchenkov are absolutely solid and let’s not forget a rejuvenated Corvo, who turned it on in the latter part of the 2nd half and hasn’t looked back. Don’t forget Preissing and one of the most valuable assets on the Sens, Schubert who can play solid on both the wing and on defence.
Emery is the first No. 1 goalie Ottawa has developed in its 15-year-history and he has patiently and professionally bided his time for this opportunity. He is solid, rarely out of position, and if you don’t think he wants to meet Hasek in the final…He’s a bonafide number one and could win multiple Cups before his career is over.
One cannot underestimate the experience Murray brings to the spring. Injuries throughout the year forced Murray to mix the lines. This affords Murray the luxury of having a squad that’s very interchangeable with each other and in various roles. He's also capable of matching strategies with opposing coaches, which is a night and day approach compared to his predecessor's insistence on riding the system - right to the abyss in FLA.
When Pittsburgh held a 7-0 shots advantage 10 minutes into Game 5 the wheels would have fallen off the old Ottawa team that always found a way to implode in years past. All year this team was questioned about it’s slow start and failure to win close games, which has only made them playoff ready and allowed them to gear-up, although they haven't peaked, at the right time.
The Senators avoided bad penalties and held Pittsburgh to only four power-play goals on 28 chances during the series, including none on 17 chances in the final three games.
16 Senators have points through the 1st round and 6 of those goal scorers were d-men. By comparison, 3 of Anaheim’s 11 goal scorers were d-men. This team can role 4 lines capable of scoring and equally capable of playing defense. When Jason Spezza embraces the task of checking Crosby you know everyone is on board. Other than Eaves, the Sens are not suffering from injuries.
And they just look like past winners...