Brennan: I was right on Sens making playoffs

Senators teammates Milan Michalek (second left), Colin Greening (centre), Erik Karlsson (second...

Senators teammates Milan Michalek (second left), Colin Greening (centre), Erik Karlsson (second right), and Jason Spezza (right) listen to Daniel Alfredsson during practice at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., April 4, 2012. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:27 AM ET

OTTAWA - I am not as stupid as I look.

In fact, I also appear to be smarter than most, if not all of the hockey “experts.”

I can’t find anyone else who picked the Senators to make the playoffs this season.

But I did.

You can look it up.

I wasn’t asked to participate in a pre-season prediction panel, but time and time again I stated in our early Digital Faceoff pieces that, when the dust finally settled, the Senators would be among the Top 8 teams in the Eastern Conference.

Why?

Well, it’s no secret that I like to go against the flow, but I also truly believed the Senators had what it takes to qualify for the post-season tournament for at least eight reasons:

1. Paul MacLean

I was also the first to write that the Senators would and should hire the former Detroit Red Wings assistant to become their coach. Not just because he was a former 10-year player who, because of his experience would command respect in the dressing room, but also as he had spent the previous six years coaching a successful team and before returning to the NHL he had a very strong run as a bench boss in the minors. I’ll admit that I didn’t think MacLean would be able to figure out a way to coax a lot of offence from his new team, but I did think he was smart enough to come up with a game plan that would keep the Senators close most nights. I was right.

2. Craig Anderson

I thought the Senators corrected their biggest weakness when they traded for Anderson, a goalie they had long coveted, last February. He played very well the rest of the season, but the “experts” pointed out that he had not proven himself as a consistent, elite puck stopper. But I thought he was good enough to steal some games and get the job done. I was right.

3. Daniel Alfredsson

If you had followed the man closely for 15 seasons as I have, you knew he was going to bounce back from the back surgery — even if he says he didn’t. And knowing of his leadership qualities, you also believed that his presence and work ethic would raise the play of those around him. I was pretty sure of this. I was right.

4. Jason Spezza

The guy is a great player. He’s also very proud. After two injury-shortened 57-point seasons, he was bound to bounce back and bounce back strong. At least that’s what I thought. I was right.

5. Erik Karlsson

I asked him a few hours before Game 5 of the regular season in Washington about his personal goals for the season. He said to get one more point than the 45 he scored in 2010-11. I told him I thought 70 was within his reach. He said “that’s a lot of points.” I said again that I thought he could reach that level. I was right.

6. Milan Michalek

This is no frail individual. He’s a big strong guy who plays hard. That’s why he was always running into injuries. But I knew his luck would change, and if it did he would prove once and for all that the Senators won the trade when they acquired him for Dany Heatley. I was right.

7. The boys from Bingo

I knew the experience gained from a long and strong playoff run that ended with a Calder Cup championship would make better players of guys like Zack Smith, Colin Greening, Jared Cowen, Kaspars Daugavins and Erik Condra. I knew there would be a positive carryover effect. I was right.

8. Bryan Murray

The Senators GM and his staff had taken plenty of heat for the team’s fall. But I knew he was a smart hockey man and that he had a strong staff in assistant GM Tim Murray and director of scouting Pierre Dorion. I was certain they knew what they were doing. I was right.

Now, I’m no genius. I’m not even an “expert.” See, I thought David Rundblad would make the team and become an impact player faster than Cowen. Boy, was I wrong. But, as for the rest of it, well, you have to agree now that I’m not as stupid as I look.


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