Winning is always more fun than losing. With the Sens’ recent improved play leading to more Ws in the standings, fun has also returned to Scotiabank Place.
Friday night I took in the Sens-Capitals game with my kids and some friends. We had some great seats in a private box, enjoyed the action and got a chance to talk a lot of hockey with some good people and passionate Sens fans.
The Senators, of course, came away with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over a team battling for playoff position. But the thing that caught my attention most wasn’t the fact that Ottawa took down one of the top teams in the East. It was more the fact that this revamped Senators lineup, which has undergone the NHL’s version of Extreme Makeover since the beginning of 2011, is enjoyable to watch.
Consequently, Scotiabank Place, a bit of a dreary place for much of the season, was once again filled with energy and enthusiasm Friday night.
As I watched an industrious Sens team compete, I looked around and noticed there were more than 18,000 fans there to see a club that is now officially out of the playoffs and made up largely of American leaguers. For a team that has had such a miserable season lingering near the basement of the NHL, the Senators once again have an excited fan base.
Senators supporters have watched their team shed millions of dollars in salary and send fan favourites such as Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly and others packing over the past couple of months. Yet fans have wasted little time in warming to a new generation of potential stars such as Colin Greening and Bobby Butler.
After talking to many fans since the shakeup, I get the feeling people are beginning to appreciate where this team is heading in the future.
Obviously, the addition of a solid goaltender in Craig Anderson and the fact that this team is now playing pressure-free hockey are big reasons why the Seanators are starting to string together some victories. Having played on clubs that were eliminated from the playoff hunt, I know it is easier to play when the pressure is off. Still, you have to give credit where credit is due, and young talents like Greening, Butler and Eric Condra have been impressive so far.
When your favourite team has no hope of making a run at a championship, you have to take the positives where you can find them. And right now, Senators fans are indeed finding reasons to cheer again.